Once upon a time, record label Alive Naturalsound released the debut from a little band called The Black Keys. Now, that same label has released More Primitive from Seattle-based boogie-blues trio Lonesome Shack. Considering the Keys’ meteoric success, does Lonesome Shack’s Ben Todd (vocals/guitar) feel any pressure to live up to expectations? “I don’t feel any pressure but I do hope it does well,” Todd tells EW via email, “and I’m happy to be working with Alive. It seems like the most fitting label around for us.”
Top to bottom, More Primitive will be familiar to Black Keys fans: slinky and cool hill-country blues with a contemporary sensibility. The album’s second track, “Head Holes,” is a sound-alike for early Black Keys, but where the Keys have classic rock ambitions, Lonesome Shack are content with a dark and sweaty juke joint.
“Blues is a huge genre,” Todd says, “but we can narrow it down by listing some influences: early Howlin’ Wolf, Junior Kimbrough, John Lee Hooker, Cecil Barfield, Robert Pete Williams.” He goes on to describe Shack’s sound as “drone-y and danceable electrified rural blues, heavy on grooves.”
Todd says when all goes well, a Lonesome Shack show is a dance party where people can cut loose and have fun. “We’re a live band,” he explains. “All our recordings are live, so our show sounds very true to our records. Since we don’t practice much, our songs can sound a little different every time. This gives our show a fresh, spontaneous feel.”
Lonesome Shack plays with the Whiskey Chasers 8:30 pm Friday, June 6, at Axe & Fiddle in Cottage Grove; $5. — William Kennedy