All Nite Skate / Western Shame
November 30, 2006
All Nite Skates debut full-length album, Western Shame, begins with an appropriate explosion
before spinning into layer after layer of epic guitar work. No, this is not
your average Fort Wayne band, not in the slightest.
Upon the release of their self-titled EP (more
specifically the opening track, Bear Claw) All Nite Skate became a band to
watch. Usually, when a young band releases a teaser EP, everything feels
half-realized. Such was not the case with ANS. No, they came out of the musical
womb as teenagers, one half-step away from beauty and bronze and, to the
everyday listener, a world away from everything else going on in Fort Waynes
burgeoning music scene. Western Shame is Fort Waynes most original product all year, a
sound to cherish and an album to play for your out-of-town friends who dont
believe it when you tell them that your hometown has a band every bit as good
as Explosions in the Sky. Yep, they're already that good.
Such early mastery doesnt come without a lot of
work and a clear understanding and knowledge of your craft. Clearly, Cole
Strader (bass, Rhodes), Bob Haddad (guitar, harmonica), Darcy Flanagan (keys,
bells, piano, accordion), Kay Gregg (drums, percussion) and Omar Afzaal
(guitar, bass) have done their homework and spent their share of time
practicing. Sonic Youth, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Pelican, Explosions in the
Sky, Can, Slint and even the Smashing Pumpkins are all somewhere in the mix of
the 10 songs that make up Western Shame. And while ANS have a way to go before they can be
named alongside such accomplished bands, Shame is Pumpkins aside better than any
of said bands debut releases.
Despite utilizing a decent number of instruments
and a slew of guitar layers, ANS keep it simple on Shame. With no singer in sight, minimal
production, beautiful hand-made album artwork and word-of-mouth promotion, Shames approach is the kind that inspires.
With above average talent, a whole lot of hard work, persistence and a good
record collection, its possible to put out an album that transcends the term
local, and these guys (and gals) have done it.
Battlestations, Bearclaw and Darcys Song are
all reworked from the EP into less flashy, more intricate mini epics that
thrive on both the tight chemistry of the band and, notably, Haddad and
Afzaals modern Tom Verlaine/Richard Lloyd-like guitar chemistry.
As Lou Reed once told The Strokes guitarists
Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond, Jr., I know what you guys are doing with
those two guitars because I used to do it, and it sure wasnt easy. The same
can be said for Haddad and Afzaals tangling guitar work. With their juxtaposed
riffs and solid-as-a-rock rhythm section, ANS add the bonus flourishes that
every good instrumental band needs to take their sound to another level. These
flourishes come, usually, by way of multi-instrumentalist Flanagan, who adds
all the right moves at all the right moments, further proving that ANS are
The sprawling Darcys Song/White Wire builds to
climax around the 3:30 mark, then drops its bags, relents and picks right back
up with a whole new knuckle sandwich of ideas. ANS are, if nothing else, very
capable of dreaming up impressive 10-minute songs that show their compositional
skills. They dont noodle around like a jam band, and they dont sway in their
skivvies to the tiny prick of ambiance; rather, they build saturated epics made
especially for advanced listeners. Listeners who used to love King Crimson
and Brian Eno but anymore find them to be boring or predictable. Quite the
feat, I must say, for a band so fresh.
For an A.D.D.-plagued generation thats too
modern for Beethoven, All Nite Skates Western Shame is a fine example of modern
composition at its most fulfilling (see Andre the Giant for a quick, easy
fix). Sure, they arent for everyone, but to the folks whove spent 100 times
more money on records in their life than clothing, this is (once again) it. Western Shame is guitar-textured proof that Fort
Wayne isnt the stupidest city in the U.S., as previously reported by some
attention-seeking rag a couple of years ago. The album, as well as the bands
EP, is available at Convolution Records on Wells St. or via
Nappanee Apple Festival and more!