Naked Giants – The Shadow (Album Review)

Naked Giants – The Shadow
Released: August 21st 2020

Naked Giants Lineup

Grant Mullen | Guitar and Vocals
Gianni Aiello | Bass and Vocals
Henry LaVallee | Drums

Naked Giants online:

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The moment I heard ‘Walk Of Doom’, the first track that opens Naked Giants’ latest offering The Shadow, I instantly had an idea of what this band was shooting for. Being the first I’ve heard of them, I was intrigued – the recording was lo-fi, and sounded like the kind of records that came from the alternative underground during the late eighties/very early nineties – in particular the early Sup Pop era.

Upon reading the bio for Naked Giants and finding out the trio originate from Seattle, it all clicked for me – the garage-noise-grunge-punk infused sound that dominates this record sounds like it’s been lifted straight out of a Jack Endino recording session from Sub Pop’s early days. What’s even cooler is the fact that the folks producing this fuzz-ridden soundscape are in their early twenties – born long after the chaos that both established Seattle as a musical playground and set the blueprint for the nineties and beyond.

The Shadow drips with influences from the likes of Mudhoney and Tad, along with a strong 80’s post-punk vibe – think Joy Division or perhaps our own The Saints – yet still has a modern sound as to not make listeners their age mistake Naked Giants for something from their parents record collection.

Tracks like ‘High School (Don’t Like Them)’ and ‘(God Damn!) What I Am’ demonstrate these wide influences well, with the fuzz cranked and riffs that rock out, earning them their spot as one of the best among their hometown’s current live music scene. While ‘Turns Blue’ and ‘Take A Chance’ have some awesome songwriting to them, helping them leap out among the other tracks as solid lead singles, yet still conveying the alternative signature of the band. Other jams like ‘Better Not Waste My Time’ and the title track ‘The Shadow’ double down on that Mudhoney influence, with the fuzz cranked to full and a live vibe reminiscent of late-night sets at places like The Tote in Melbourne (insert ‘remember live music lol’ joke here.)

The closing track ‘Song For When You Sleep’ fades out with acoustic guitars and chorus-heavy electrics and leaves me pleasantly surprised at a band that honestly our esteemed editor handed to me out of the blue. Perhaps the once-underground sounds of my (obvious, sorry) favourite music capital that I once worshiped as a teen never died out like the Rolling Stones and Pitchforks of the music-journo world might have you believe – that perhaps more bands like Naked Giants are still thrashing it out in their Seattle-basements in between inventing the next killer apps for their day jobs at various tech-bubble giants the American northwest city is known for today.

If you’re a fan at all of the bands I referenced here, go give The Shadow a spin, and be prepared to maybe find yourself raiding not just Naked Giants but perhaps some of the famous Sub Pop label’s back catalogue afterwards.

naked giants - the shadow

Naked Giants – The Shadow tracklisting:

  1. Walk Of Doom
  2. High School (Don’t Like Them)
  3. Take A Chance
  4. Turns Blue
  5. (God Damn!) What I Am
  6. The Ripper
  7. Unpeeled
  8. Television
  9. Better Not Waste My Time
  10. The Shadow
  11. Song For When You Sleep

Rating: 9 ½/10
The Shadow is out now.
Review By – Simon Valentine (@SimonValentineAU)

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