The Shills  'Keep Your Hands Busy' And Your Brain On Fire
  • THURSDAY, MAY 14, 2015

  • Posted by: Don Saas

I'm self-conscious about my music writing. I'm self-conscious about it despite being the Managing Editor of Baeble. I often feel that I lack the technical vocabulary to discuss music in a way that engages with it in more constructive terms than an over-utilization of buzzy genre descriptors or name-dropping other acts (though I quickly remember that's sadly what music journalism has become today). And as I write about Keep Your Hands Busy: Vol. 2, I'm feeling more self-conscious than usual. We're premiering the album from Boston four-piece The Shills, and they deserve a lot more than the traditional, modern rock write-up.

If you want the fast & easy description of the band and their new record, it would look something like this: On Keep Your Hands Busy: Vol. 2 the Boston neo-prog-pop-rock act channel the complex and funky soulful guitar rhythms of the Dismemberment Plan with a post-hardcore edge without sacrificing an arena-filling immensity to their sound. But, Keep Your Hands Busy: Vol. 2 and The Shills deserve more than that accurate if somewhat reductive description.

There's a texture to Keep Your Hands Busy: Vol. 2. Album opener "Oh, This Devilish Place" melds psychedelic, swirling melodies with propulsive riffs and deeply layered guitar work. It's rare for guitars on a record to sound simultaneously this spacey while also carrying so much forward rock momentum. The vocals snake through your mind -- Bryan Murphy switching up between a Travis Morrison yelp and Thom Yorke falsetto (see; I literally can't help myself when it comes to these artist comparisons). And, throughout the record, the arrangements play with every genre expectation you bring to the table. The record is chameleon-esque without losing stylistic cohesion, and Keep Your Hands Busy: Vol. 2 is one of the most exciting records we've heard this year.

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