Review of Joe Gideon & The Shark's album 'Harum Scarum' released through Bronzerat Records on 9th March 09.
The hype around this duo has been huge, and rightly so. Joe Gideon and his sister, Viva (aka The Shark) produce some of the most original music I've heard in ages. They have recently supported a number of high profile acts including the likes of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and you can see why. Their combination of thumping rhythms, raw bluesy guitar and Joe Gideon's rough county-style vocals/spoken word weaving melancholic stories makes for compelling listening.
The whole sound is stripped bare, raw and bluesy with light production. Gideon provides the main vocals and guitar and Viva plays the drums, piano and guitar, whilst adding beautifully delicate backing vocals. The record kicks off with title track Harum Scarum, a great introduction to the pounding rhythms of the band, while DOL is the real stand out track, with the repetitive chanting 'Daughter of a loony' followed by a huge grungy riff drawing you into the song.
Kathy Ray is a beautiful almost country-esque number and much more low key than the general sound. It is also infinitely enhanced by Viva's delicate melodic vocals, which don't seem to have been used to their full potential on the album as a whole. Anything You Love That Much You Will See Again, sees another slight departure from the thumping beats. This melancholic number sticks to delicate piano and a soft snare drum. It shows a much more sensitive side to the band, the emotive lyrics 'If you keep your head up, the line you walk will be straight and your paths will meet again, someday' delivered perfectly.
Spoken word will often add a humorous element to a record and despite the subject matter being generally dark and emotive; Harum Scarum does make you laugh. With lyrics such as 'She's still got that look in her eye, the good one that is' and with the sarcasm and irony in Gideon's deadpan delivery it's not surprising. But although it has a humorous element, it is by no means a comedy record; it's a stunning debut from a musically brilliant duo who will no doubt go far this year.