by Wheaton Hop
According to Urban Dictionary, a shivvy can be one of two things: “The act of randomly giving a female a mint, then kissing her neck. Causes immediate goosebumps.” or just straight up shake as in marijuana. Our traditional, more academic dictionaries would describe it thusly:
Shiv: /SHiv/ Noun informal•North American noun: shiv; plural noun: shivs 1. a knife or razor used as a weapon.
I am here to tell you that I have something for you today that encapsulates all 3 of those things. Unless you have been living under a rock, you have already read about and/or listened to today’s entry elsewhere. If you have not yet been so privileged, I am here to tell you that it will (or should, damn it) give you goosebumps and stab you so deep that you are transfixed and are physically unable to avert your eargaze. You’ll be stoned through a sonic thrust that sends shivers through your body. It’s that good. The sounds will wrap you in a blanket of familiarity as it simultaneously excites with you a freshness and uniqueness only this trio of tried and true legends could deliver.
Dummies and Dummettes, I present to you…
The Dutch have a word to describe anything good, great, or simply enjoyable. It can be used when referring to a cold beverage, a beautiful day, or even a kickass song. “Lekker” translates to “delicious” in English. And this record is indeed chock-full of lekker liedjes; it’s absolutely delectable.
Comprised of Rotterdam’s own Marien, Michiel, and Robert, this mini supergroup joined forces to bring us their fantastic self titled release. The obvious influence of Ramones, Riverdales, and Huntingtons completely sucks you in. With this foundation of appreciation for the greats that came before, The Shivvies utilize their own experience and material from Marien’s Windowsill/Giant Eagles/Apers background and Michiel and Robert’s Real Danger to build a powerhouse of rock.
They open with the first single, Goodnight Baby. From that Dee Dee 184.108.40.206, we are launched into a classic Ramones melody. Michiel’s vocal styling deliciously invokes Joey all while showing us he has his own chops to back it up. The rhythm of his bass playing reminds us that these guys are no novice chumps, they know exactly how to get our attention and keep us hooked. Robert’s drums are the driving backbone of this entire record as well and altogether, this is a perfect intro to the rest of the album.
Phone Booth leads in with a solid Riverdales vibe but a second later, instantly and smoothly transitions into what could easily pass as a Windowsill track. Marien can’t do any wrong in my book. He’s got a formula that works like an elixir for all your emotional and musical needs. I think he should patent this stuff! Lyrically, he is capable of writing in a way that tells a story so recognizable to us all that we are actually watching it play out in our minds as we listen along. Like a video. I love it when a song has that magic.
Switching it up, next is Snitch. Another snotty 220.127.116.11 and Michiel charges in with a Joey Ramone a la Mikey Huntington a la Michiel Walrave flair. This guy can croon in his own right and he hits a home run with the fun vocal twists on Snitch that drive this one in for the win. It’s a fast paced, guitar driven song energized by Marien’s backing vocals to get us ready for the next track as they continue that every other song trade off that we know and love from the other groups this album emulates.
Freak Out is a minute long interlude where Marien gets the chance to vent a little neurotic anxiety in search of medication to bring us back down to baseline. Medication we find in Creepy Vibes, a tune that perfectly captures and elicits late era Ramones. It’s solid and complete with a familiar little keyboard chime (I was waiting for the train whistle. haha) and guitar tone you should instantly recognize. This one also highlighted Robert’s drumming proficiency and created the complete package for me.
How I Feel slows it down for a bit of a breather and gives us both Michiel and Marien on shared vocals. These men are so stylistically different but somehow blend together effortlessly. Definitely a trait that is a cornerstone of true talent. Chemicals feels like a continuation of Freak Out and How I Feel subject wise but also draws in that Huntingtons flow again and I am all about it.
That Girl. Damn. This is where I melt. Reminiscent of first release Giant Eagles, Marien delivers. I have said it a million times before but if men spoke to women in real life the way they emote in songs, there would be a lot less lonely people on the planet. Dizzy just solidifies that for me. Michiel brings us another easily visualized scenario depicting our nervous, angsty propensities to just watch from afar in unrequited anxiety. It’s the tragedy of the human heart.
Speaking of… Have My Heart, the slow jam pop song. We get the softer side of Marien vocally here. Languishing in more lovelorn thoughts and questions that invariably pop into life. Sigh. That’s all I got. Sigh. I’m totally rooting for this guy. I hope he gets that girl. Go get her!
What’s happening here?
In a complete about face, The Shivvies drop the hammer on all that crushy love stuff and swoop in with the hat trick that is Dimwit and Shivvies and Crocodile. I guess they decided it was time to inject us with another dose of energetic, snotty attitude. Ok. I’m cool with that. Keep us on our toes. Recharge. This ménage à trois reminds us of the incredible versatility this group brings. Absolute bangers.
In the grandest of grand finales, closing out this jam-packed release is Esperanza. As far as punk rock ballads go, this one just knocked me out. 5 minutes of crooning, slick melancholic lyrics that carried me away. Esperanza not only includes gorgeous female backing vocals but… are you ready for this???…. Saxophone! Yes. Saxophone. It is ingenious and glorious. I would have never expected to hear it but in the last minute and a half of this already amazing song, there it is. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. Perfection. Esperanza is Spanish for hope and I certainly hope this isn’t the last we hear from The Shivvies.
Released digitally from Shield Recordings on Bandcamp this past April with a physical release expected this summer, this album is sure to be on heavy rotation for a very long time to come.
As I mentioned at the top of this piece, you’re sure to have already gotten a taste of the Shivvies as they have caused quite a stir and garnered tons of accolades on multiple pages and blogs throughout the interwebs. I just couldn’t let this lekker thing go without adding a little Wheaton Hop perspective to the mix.
So bounce on over to your listening platform of choice and treat yourself to this one. Be sure to buy it when you can, either now digitally from Shield or make sure you jump on the physical release as soon as it’s announced. I have a feeling this thing is gonna sell out.
For now, peace out from the Heatherlands.
– Wheaton Hop