Sometimes you just have to listen to more of one band, you hear one song and you have to hear the rest of the album from which it was spawned into the world. In one of my last reviews, I was looking at the latest sampler from 'Sweet Sounds Records' (cleverly linked to the review here); there is seventeen bands on the compilation and my favourite of all of them was the title track to this six track album. A little bit about Ladyshark - this projected started off as a solo project for vocalist/guitarist Sarah Vardy, under the name Anu Sava. The band grew into a two piece and changed their name with the edition of Jane Boxall on drums, they are based in Nashville Davidson, Tennessee and this album follows on from their debut 'Buried' and the 'Lickety Split' EP (both of which are available on their Bandcamp page. The cover is (as those of you blessed with the gift of sight can see) a shark with a bra over its eyes, with the band's name plastered over the lower section of the cover; it is a brilliant image, makes no sense and I love it! So, I already know how one song on this album sounds, how will the rest turn out?
Starting off the album is the title track "Monsters" which was featured on the above mentioned Sweet Sounds Records compilation. It starts off with a little falling scale of notes, but it is soon joined by one of the biggest riot grrrl riffs I have heard for many years. As I said on the earlier review musically they have a sound akin to the Cramps, the B-52's (not "Love Shack" era, back when they were good), Babes in Toyland, Sleater Kinney and the riot grrrl scene. It is a raw, passionate, hard driving number; it has a groove that is so good that it is impossible to ignore. It is a song that gets into your veins, making you wants to jump around and has such a great energy! The energy is the key thing here, it is a sounds like the right mixture of chaos and premeditated musical malice. Not only was it the best song on the compilation, it is one of the best openers to an album this year. "Set Yourself Free" goes down a different route which takes a (slightly) slower groove, but an interesting one never the less. It is a slow burning number, with a hint of grunge and a slight surf rock tone to some of the passages being added to the action here as well as a song for driving into the night. It is a number that smoulders instead of exploding, with a slow style that comes from confidence and the natural talent; a good follow-up track. The half way point of this album is marked with "Two Sisters". This is the longest song of the album, a song about loss and the after effects of a series of events which change both people in the situations. With a heart-breaking pound, the song makes you feel every beat of its painful heart as it takes you through the part of the journey, making the heart yearn for sanctuary. Whilst being over seven minutes long, it does not feel that way as you are lost in the song. It is a great number, definitely worth investigating.
"New Years Day" is a song that is very firmly in the same territory of Sleater-Kinney, but with a dose of The Breeders hinted at in places. It is a song about that time of year when people can be forced into being with people just to keep other feelings at bay, all the time just wanting sanctuary. It is a darker side of that emotional time, it does not need to be explosive all the way through, just for those few moments when it is required to add that required colour to the situation. It is a moody number, but another good one as well. The penultimate song "Riot" has a nodding touch to the song "Pump It Up" by Elvis Costello and the Attractions, it also adds another dose of surfer rock to the proceedings as the band pick up the speed once more. It is a song about inequality (which is sadly still out there) and there is a bite to this song that drives the number with a frantic need to get that message across - I really like this song, its message is a worthy one and the music smashes into you, just what you need sometimes. Ending the album is "Felt So Small" which bring another dose of reflection to the album, the mood is dark once more on this one and you are listening to a song about abuse and fighting. It is not the most comfortable of number and that is to be expected with the subject matter. But it is handled with an honesty and not leaving anything left in the darkness - it is all on display here and you have to face it head on. It is a powerful and brave number, one that I cannot help but respect for the honest on offer.
This album is a surprising one for me, there are moments of explosions and the musical style of riot grrrl is definitely alive and blazing brightly on this album, but I was not expecting some of the heart-break and emotional upheaval in places and it just adds something else, something equally as brilliant to the mix. I do wish there was a little more on the album, but that is me just wanting new music to be honest; however, this does not take away from the fact that this is a great band who deserve to be heard - it has been a pleasure to follow on that initial impact from the first song I heard and I would recommend that you check them out now.
7.5 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out
Top track - Monsters
You can purchase Monsters from the Ladyshark Bandcamp here
You can visit the Ladyshark website here
You can follow the activities of Ladyshark on Facebook here
At present, Monsters is not on any streaming site