I recently did some perusing at the museum of commodified nostalgia, otherwise known as Urban Outfitters, and had a familiar feeling. Whenever I go to Urban Outfitters I get a strange sensation that can best be described as a mixture of impulse-shopper excitement and buyers-remorse queasiness. Sure, Pac Man completely blew my mind when I was a little kid, but, do I really need to spend almost $30 for a shirt adorned with his pixilated likeness? Yes, Polaroid cameras were tons of fun, but, do I need to spend $180 on a reproduction just so I can bust it out for laughs when hosting a dinner party? The answer to both questions is probably no, but man it would be cool to own those things in addition to a record player that converts sounds on vinyl into a digital format. When it comes to nostalgia in the form of new music the investment concern is usually a matter of time. The evaluation of relevance is a common preoccupation for the average music obsessive, and if the music in question features authentic emulations of antiquated styles the process can be swift. Sometimes pop-culture nostalgia, especially when felt for eras not experienced firsthand, is a testament to the strength of a particular artifacts form or function, and serves as a reminder that “relevance” is subjective, and “progress” can be nonlinear.
On their new EP Sing New Shouts, Pittsburgh PA band New Shouts bring together early pops most potent permutations to create one of the most exuberant records I’ve heard since Franz Ferdinand set out to “make music for girls to dance to.” In just under twenty minutes New Shouts give a clinic on the fundamentals of “hit-making” as established during the late 50s’ and 60s’. Bursting with sounds that include girl-group, garage-rock, early British Invasion, and northern-soul, Sing New Shouts succeeds at capturing the wide-eyed excitement of the music that served as a sound-track for the youth movements in America and the U.K.
The three pronged attack of the songs “I Need To Love You (To Carry On),” “Hung On You,” and “Stop Braggin,” flow together like movements of a pop mini-suite composed to show the transition from British rhythm-and-blues to Beatles perfected mersey-beat. Echoes of first-wave British-Invasion can be heard on “Dollybird” and “Make It Snappy,” with the latter featuring a sock-hop breakdown so uncanny that you can practically smell the high-school gymnasium filled with sweaty teens and pent-up hormones. I’m not as familiar with northern soul as I would like to be, but album closer “Bang Slang” strikes me as being a take on that genre’s later output with its gritty tension, loose limbed funkiness, and soul-clap ready bridges. The album’s most stunning moment is album opener “The Reins Of Your Heart,” an up-tempo soul-ballad with undeniable charm and melody. With Motown gravitas, the songs narrator struggles with the delusion of love-possession. As heavenly sound-swells build and crash, perfectly arranged rhythm changes drive every sentiment home and make it hard to not move your body to the beat. The lyrics on Sing New Shouts run the gamut of the familiar tropes to be expected for each songs particular style and mood. Filled with sly come-ons, heartbreak-poetry, and tongue-in-cheek innuendo, the lyrics are colorful and propel the music without getting in the way.
New Shouts band-members Cor Allen, Derek White, Mario White, and Jonathan Chamberlain, are mainstays of the popular soul-music dance parties held regularly in Pittsburgh, which gives the songs on Sing New Shouts the vitality of lived-in inspiration. Their songs resonate with clarity of purpose rooted in a desire to make asses shake and hearts soar. If on future releases New Shouts can bring into focus the blurred line of continuity that runs from the music that has inspired them to more contemporary sounds, they could be on to something very special indeed. However, if New Shouts simply release another album of great music that makes you lose your shit from hearing pop, rock, and soul, in their purest forms, well let’s just say that I won’t resist the impulse to snatch it up.
You can buy the Sing New Shouts EP at Bandcamp. Do your ass and heart a favor and pick it up.