Filtering the best essences of punk, pop, indie, hard rock and more into their own industrious rock ‘n’ roll revelry, US band Shark Tape is a band which has been creating a buzz of their side of the globe for the past couple of years or so. Now their energetically flavoursome sound is concentrating on stirring up British attention through the UK release of debut album Marathon. A collection of songs as united in contagious enterprise as they are individual in character and imagination, the release is a sure fire incitement to body swerves, broad smiles, and feeling good.
Hailing from Philadelphia, Shark Tape emerged in 2007. They went through various project names before settling on the name we are now embracing. The trio of vocalist/bassist Stephen Lorek, guitarist Niles Weiss, and drummer Dylan Mulcahy released a pair of EPs in 2012, a self-titled debut and Eyes On You which were both well-received with the latter especially earning potent radio play from East Coast radio stations. Late 2013, the band linked up with renowned engineer Jeff Ziegler (Kurt Vile, War On Drugs) to begin working on their first album, Marathon receiving its acclaimed US release last November and now looking at sparking the same enthusiasm in the UK. With a host of inventively crafted songs bound in imaginatively woven sounds, it is easy to assume it is already a done deal in making the strongest persuasion over here too.
The album gets off to a seriously rousing start with Bronco, vibrant riffs and attention causing hooks instantly inescapable bait matched in potency by the varied vocal tones. The guitars jangle and entice right away with flirtatious indie rock endeavour, leading the listener and an already greedy appetite into an addiction forging chorus which swiftly enlists the listener’s vocal help to join their body’s already keen involvement. Like a mix of Weezer and UK band Asylums, the song is unbridled contagion and matched all the way by Marathon’s title track. Unveiling its own unique hooks and melodic temptation, the track has a healthy hard/glam rock urge in its fiery invention amidst another uncontrollable infection for ears and imagination. Totally different in sound it maybe, but song and indeed album not for the last time, shows the same instinctive ability to create hook laden, uncomplicated but precisely woven punk pop as bands like The Undertones and Buzzcocks, and with more encounters like this the potential for a similar status for Shark Tape ahead might be on the cards.
River Runs Deep comes next, opening with an eighties electro rock like welcome, backing it up with harmonious vocals before adding tempering through vivacious shadows from the bass. Swinging beats and more exotic electronic hues bring new colour to the slimline but rich landscape of the song as it grows, and though it cannot quite emulate the previous pair in strength it keeps the flames of satisfaction burning nicely before the more agitated charms of Long Time Coming take over. Lorek’s bass has a delicious dark tone as it brings the song into view, riveting coaxing quickly wrapped in the indie sparkle of guitar and vocals. As its predecessor there is also an essence of eighties colouring, a new wave pop invention infused with a rawer nineties rock pop that works away to create another choice proposal within Marathon.
Slightly mellower but no less compelling, Smell of Sirens provides a vibrant croon of melodic suggestiveness next. There is a sturdy rhythmic frame and emotional nature to it keeping its spatial melodies and airy atmosphere grounded as vocally and lyrically the song unveils its heart. Revealing further depth and strength in the band’s songwriting the track drifts away to be replaced by the captivating Neverlast with its more sombre but relentlessly catchy stroll. It is one of those songs which works away on the listener almost without them realising, making a deeper, more potent impression than first thought to return at will with its hooks and stirring melodies. Both impress but are soon overshadowed by the outstanding roguish presence of Black Panther. Surely bred from a diet of The Ramones and The Clash, the track is mischievous punk pop with robust rhythms and heavy duty bass riffs led by rebellious vocals. Equipped with a searing guitar solo, barb loaded punk hooks, and bracing rock ‘n’ roll tenacity, the track is nonstop anthemic devilment.
Through the more controlled Runway and straight after Top Rock Seller, band and album continue to ignite ears and thoughts. Though the first of the pair is more restrained than the last song, its resolve is permanently taunted by the predacious bass tones escorting it through ears, its devilish stroll trying to incite greater aggression in energy to match the aggressive imagination of hooks and ideation around it. The second of the two tracks offers a post punk meets shoegaze suggestion initially but soon moves towards a dusty rock presence sporting essences of grunge, melodic rock, and punk. It is a fascinating mix which has you searching for references to its flavours, Psychedelic Furs one hinting thought, but basically coming up with little by the time it is replaced by the excellent Silly Things. Its successor explores a similar tapestry of ideation but is a more sinister and heavily darker proposition; one pierced by shards of harmonic and melodic light amidst surf seeded sonic spicing.
The album is brought to a close by the acoustically sculpted Dying to Know, a song which from its minimal seeds blossoms into a fascinating web of rhythmic traps and sonic enterprise within an orchestra driven evocative breeze. The song is glorious, a final fanfare for the invention and craft of the band in writing and invention.
With highlights which reach classic song standards and lesser successes that most other albums would cry out for, Marathon is one of those treats all rock fans need in their lives. Remember how excited you got when you first heard bands like Weezer, The Smiths, and Wheatus, well you might just find yourself getting those self-same tingles again thanks to Shark Tape and their debut album.
Marathon is available now @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/marathon/id937432092 or http://sharktape.bandcamp.com/album/marathon