Fuzzkill presents The Shivas, The Bellybuttons at Broadcast, 8/7/16

The Shivas coast into Glasgow all the way from Portland, OR., spearheading the latest wave of the surf-rock revival after a string of dates with fellow beach bunnies La Luz last year.

The trio has a slightly haunted look; that of a bizarro world Scooby–Doo gang, who took a wrong turn at the abandoned funfair and ended up in the basement of Broadcast.

 

The surf-rock tropes of delay guitar and shimmering echo are dutifully present, but there’s a bluesy dirge to their sound which makes them a rarer pick.

Rather than combing the pristine waterfronts of L.A., it feels like we’re dredging the muddy swamps of New Orleans on instrumental stomp, ‘Do The Crocodile’.

The Shivas’ Halloweenish demeanour and murky sonics align them with other so-called ‘surf noir’ bands, but they’re about much more than just evoking a mood, and there’s absolutely no compromise here in terms of songwriting economy.

Their intuitive grasp of 60’s psych pop and girl groups shines through on the standout ‘You Make Me Wanna Die’ – it’s as sweetly hypnotic as anything by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas.

An unexpected slow-down refrain in the otherwise peppy three-chorder ‘Gun In My Pocket’ shows they’re not afraid to play with dynamics, either.

Tracks from their latest record Better Off Dead are tamer by comparison, though they do manage to coax some solo slow dances out of a tipsy front row.

Vocalist Jared Molyneux delivers powerfully throughout, with an energy belying his diminutive stature: his head bops feverishly along on a loop, like a .gif of Bobby Gillespie after his first acid dab.

Drummer Kristin Leonard keeps her tub-thumping heavy and on the button, giving the band’s wall of sound the rhythmic anchor it needs to stay docked for the duration.

The Shivas’ reference points are certainly obvious, and culled from a particular past point in the American pop music canon, but they write top-notch tunes, and perform them with a snark and brio that others would struggle to emulate.

Everything syncs for The Shivas tonight – recommended listening for all enjoying the current psych-and-surf vogue, especially if you can catch them in a venue as cosy as Broadcast.

Props go to Fuzzkill Records, too, for curating another evening of hip garage rock and enticing yet more Transatlantic talent over to Glasgow.

An honourable mention is reserved for local support, The Bellybuttons, who open the show with a sackful of slacker rock gems too catchy to argue with.

Set highlight ‘Nostalgia Factory’ from their eponymous cassette gets the be-flannelled early birds bopping along effortlessly.

Guitarist Rob deftly channels Stephen Malkmus’ melodic meanderings, all while rocking Crocs and Lonsdale shorts (who says there’s no place in rock for the “IT-consultant-fresh-off-the-squash-court” look?)

Not normally a healthy pursuit, navel-gazing may be just the ticket where The Bellybuttons are concerned – they’re the most exciting band in Glasgow right now.

Words: Graham Neil Gillespie

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