h-m-s-_fable_coverListen to this song by outwardly Liverpudlian jangle-pop collective Shack.  It’s “Natalie’s Party” as taken from their 1999 release HMS Fable.  This band was the outcropping of another cult-band The Pale Fountains, of whom mainstream North American audience also remain tragically uninformed.

I must begrudgingly give Oasis some credit.  They made classic rock-pop songwriting and presentation marketable again after many years of this approach lying stagnant.  As much as the techno-rock of the late 80s, early 90s coming out of England produced some interesting material, it seemed to me that the art of a four-piece band putting out compact pop songs without additional stylistic flourishes was on its way to becoming a lost art.   But, Oasis reminded us of the anthemic nature of guitar rock without all of the accessories.  Yet, they weren’t the only ones working in this vein.

Shack is spearheaded, much like the aforementioned Oasis, by two brothers; Michael and John Head.  Shack was a phoenix rising from the ashes of another band, the Pale Fountains who had run aground due to label pressures, debt, and drug abuse. By 1985, they’d crashed on the rocks.  .  They began as Shack in the late 80s, but it was their 90s output which finally had them in line with the zeitgeist of Brit-pop.  Yet, there again they were outshone, despite a sterling output of material which pulls together elements of the Beatles, the Byrds, and West Coast psychedelic rock band Love, with whom they appeared during Love frontman Arthur Lee’s return to the stage.

But for me, this track is my favourite; just a shimmering burst of joy, with jangly guitars, la-la-la backing vocals,  and luscious strings.   I may visit some favourite musical locales from time to time.  Well, OK.  Fairly often.   If I’m honest, this is the sound that most feels like home to me – four guys, some jangly guitar, a drummer and bass player, and songs to sing along with.  This is aural comfort food.

Oasis must be thanked again, in that Shack are currently signed to Noel Gallagher’s Sour Mash label.   And for more information about Shack, check out Shacktheband.com.


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