Tuning In: The Shacks

`WHO ARE THE SHACKS?

Flared, vignetted snap-shots of a young couple – the man perpetually somber, the woman wearing a slight smirk and a daring look in her eyes. Meet The Shacks, two twenty-somethings enamored with tinkly, hazy ’60s pop and lilting melodies in the minor key, who are just beginning their musical careers as openers for Chicano Batman and Khruangbin on their first major tour.

WHAT’S THEIR STORY?

Max Shrager was working as a solo musician for producer Leon Michels of Big Crown Records when he brought Shannon Wise into the Queens studio to show her around. The year was 2014. Shrager was 17, Wise was 15. Wise began singing for the single Michel and Shrager were producing, and the chemistry between Wise and Shrager was all-too-clear. They released “Strange Boy” and were launched on their musical career as a songwriting duo with a flower-child aura and a modern twist on the ’67 Summer of Love.

In addition to Max Shrager’s solo EP, the band has released a self-titled EP in 2016, and are planning on releasing a full album called Haze produced jointly by Michels and Shrager

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT’S THEIR STYLE LIKE?

Everything about Shannon Wise’s image screams 1960s counterculture, from her boyish figure, short hair, and endless supply of minidresses recalling models like Warhol superstar Edie Sedgwick, to her voice, often compared with French ’60s vixens Bridgette Bardot and Jane Birkin.

Most reviewers point out Wise’s whispery voice as the most distinguishing feature of their music. Her delivery is dead-pan and effortless, sounding like a female Lou Reed. But the instrumentation – xylophones, tinkling triangles, rippling organs, reverb-laden guitars, pared-back percussion – is very distinct: mysterious, understated, with a faint sultriness throughout. A stripped down production lets Wise’s voice shine through and define the sound. The musical turns and bridges are very 1960’s pop; think the Mamas and Papas, Donovan, or The Association.

In addition to their understated songs, like “Left It With Moon,” are more experimental, rock-y numbers like “Orchids,” whose layers of reverb-laden, whispered chanting has the same ghostly effect of a film with several exposures.   “Strange Effect” is more droning and psychedelic, while “Hands in Your Pockets”  experiments with an offbeat, reggae rhythm.

 

WHO’S IN THE BAND?

 

 

 

 

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Max Shrager – guitar, producer

Shannon Wise – vocals, guitar, bass

Note: The other two guys, Ben (blonde) and Joe play back up instruments – a mix of xylophone, harmonium, percussion, or whatever else is needed.

 

WHAT ARE THEY LIKE LIVE?

The Shacks perform “Left It With Moon” on a Manhattan rooftop. Watch out for the harmonium and the flawless dimples.

 

The Shacks perform “Rain” in Austin, TX.

 

For kicks, here is their music video for “Orchids”


The Shacks will be opening for Chicano Batman and Khruangbin in Thalia Hall on Saturday, September 30th at 8PM. Buy tickets here.

♥ Written by Jessica Breznick ♥

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