Shirock - Everything Burns
2009/2011 - Shirock
Nashville rockers Shirock blend singer/songwriter pastiche with well-honed pop/rock songs on their debut album, Everything Burns. Produced by Jay Ruston (The Donnas, Matisyahu, Everclear, Cold War Kids), Everything Burns is full of grand intentions, bold melodies, big energy and a story-teller’s art.
Everything Burns opens with "New Solution", a catchy, U2 style pop song. Chuck Shirock sings a bit like Bono, and the harmony vocals are perfectly complementary. This one also has a big, radio-friendly chorus that should catch the attention of radio programmers. "Time Goes By" sounds like a formulaic ballad designed for radio play, but conceals a considerable angst as the narrator questions existence and his reason to be. "Still Young" suggests a hopeful proposition wrapped in a deep melancholy. "I'll Take Rain" is a song about finding the perfect one, but has a funereal feel that's at odds with the lyrics. The song features Pap Shirock on lead vocal; she turns out to be the vocal class of the group.
"Say It Out" is a love song with real energy and passion exuding from the arrangement. There's a definite U2 influence here. "Drag You Down" is highly commercial in sound but a bit empty for substance. You can't blame a band for including a track like this in an album in the hope of catching on with mass media, but "Drag You Down" is sufficiently self-reflexive to make you wonder what Shirock was thinking. "Silver" features Pap Shirock once again on vocals for a big, enduring ballad. She sounds wonderful here, but it would be nice to hear her let loose on one of the rock tunes. Pap Shirock's harmony vocals elsewhere suggest that she is sorely underutilized.
"Everything Burns" is an admonition to make the most of your time and do something meaningful. Opening with a spoken word part, Shirock drags this one out across six-plus minutes of ashes-to-ashes commentary. "I Have Been Redeemed (Reprisal)" is not, in fact, a reprisal of anything on the album. It's a solid tune with a spiritual theme, marking a transition that we do not yet see. The album closes in a wash of ethereal sounds and reverb.
Shirock is a band with multiple personalities, and as of Everything Burns it's not clear that one has won out over the others. With Chuck Shirock on the mic there is a quality of showmanship to the group that generally works in their favor, as well as a penchant for big, wide-open arrangements with soaring melodies ala U2. With Pap Shirock up front, Shirock becomes more of a musical juggernaut. While Everything Burns does not feature her on any rock-oriented songs, it's easy to see/hear that she's the best singer in the group. Shirock takes on different aspects depending on the vocalist, and right now seems to be fighting to be one thing while more naturally disposed to being the other. This is the sort of internal tension that, if not resolved, can tear a band apart. Yet, like many other groups with multiple vocalists and personalities (Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, Styx), the ride before the crash can be fantastic.
Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)