Monday, February 05, 2007

Rollerskate Skinny

When Shoulder Voices was released in 1993, many people were interested in hearing Rollerskate Skinny's music, because band member Jimi Shields is the brother of My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields. Others were drawn to the vocals of Ken Griffin, whose voice sounds more than a bit like Echo & the Bunnymen's Ian McCulloch. What nobody probably predicted is the ragged, pop glories of Shoulder Voices, which sees Rollerskate Skinny penning and producing some of the most original music of the early '90s. While the band's sophomore release Horsedrawn Wishes and Ken Griffin's album as Kid Silver, Dead City Sunbeams, would better focus the sound first heard on Shoulder Voices, it's an amazing debut album. What might pass as another band's best-of collection is simply Rollerskate Skinny making its genius start. "Violence to Violence" is a melodic, hook-heavy song that sounds like Killing Joke doing an Echo & the Bunnymen cover; brutal guitars and dark lyrics seem radically out of tune with the sweet pop elements of the song. It's a contrast that the band turns to frequently. "Lunasa" sounds like Heaven Up Here-era Echo & the Bunnymen as performed at a carnival sideshow. "Bring on Stigmata" is joyous ride, where pop vocals float effortlessly over all sorts of pace changes, chanting, and stunning harmonies. Shoulder Voices is undoubtedly a lost classic from the 1990s, to be filed to the left of one's My Bloody Valentine and Killing Joke albums or maybe just lost somewhere amid one's Echo & the Bunnymen collection. No matter where it's filed, it's a rewarding, challenging listen.

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