The Mandelbrot Shakes - Shake It!
Released April 1, 2023 – Lead Mine Records Recorded at: Dubrek Studios, Derby, England Album art: Pedro A Go Go All songs written and performed by The Mandelbrot Shakes The Mandelbrot Shakes are: Letty Wells – Vocals and drums; Julian Wells – Guitar Reviewed May 8, 2023
Shake It!, by the English duo The Mandelbrot Shakes, is a heavy blues-inspired album with solid punk undertones. Gritty guitar work and assertive vocals are the hallmarks of this dirty, largely mid-tempo debut release.
1) Shake It! – The album kicks off with the title track, originally released as a single, that sets the tone with a driving, crunchy guitar. The punchy vocals declare “you can feel it in your fingers…and running down your back.” So just Shake it!
2) Wasted – The tempo picks up for this track as the vocals disparage a no-good lover.
3) In My Head – Letty sings what many of us above a certain age can identify with…feeling so much better in our heads. The driving guitar work of the intro pulls back during the verses and provides just the right amount of space for the vocals.
4) Your Love – The tempo slows back down again and has a great change in feel in the bridge. It’s my favourite track on the album.
5) Ghost – The opening chord and feedback fooled me into thinking the song was going into a different direction than it did. Instead of a forward, driving guitar line the Julian pulled things back a bit. This gave more space for Letty to deliver some aggressive, spectral vocals in this aptly named tune.
6) Losing My Way – A nice little punk-anthem, those of us with a penchant for nonconformity or feelings of rejection by society will appreciate the sentiment.
7) Better Run – Originally released as the B-side of the single, Shake It!, this tracking is just oozing with malice. Heavy distortion on the guitar supports the litany of threats made to, perhaps, the no-good lover in “Wasted”.
Big Old Case – Solid blues riffs in this one and I really enjoyed the shift to the cut time feel in the break.
9) Got Nothing – This is the closest to a classically rockabilly track in the group. Letty’s stick work in the intro was a great replication of the clickety sounds of a slapped upright bass. Julian pulls back on the guitar a bit on this one as well during the vocals. Then he shines during the guitar solo.
10) Siren – Letty’s haunting, sparse, wordless vocals add an apt, almost magical, quality to “Siren.”
Summary: The Mandelbrot Shakes are not your typical rockabilly fare. Rather, they take many of the same sources of inspiration and turn them into a raucous ride into a sonic world of gritty, aggressive, and raw delight. They are amped up in volume but stripped down in arrangement. There’s a refreshing purity in listening to these two solid musicians. I liked this album so much I bought it on vinyl. Watch them on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/@TheSineWavesSurf Buy the album at https://themandelbrotshakes.bandcamp.com/album/shake-it
Band Bio: “The Mandelbrot Shakes are a garage punk trash blues duo from the UK.” – Bandcamp Reviewed by Jay “M’Lord” Laughlin