Album Review: Local band Shady Francos introduce ‘Gabe’

San+Diego+alternative+three-piece+the+Shady+Francos+play+for+a+crowd+during+a+2014+concert.++++Photo+by+Otis%2C+official+Facebook+photo.

San Diego alternative three-piece the Shady Francos play for a crowd during a 2014 concert. Photo by Otis, official Facebook photo.

Ricardo Soltero

From time to time, certain bands come and generate so much hype and excitement that it’s hard for music fans to not get caught up in it. Such is the case for Shady Francos, the San Diego-based trio that just released their second extended play titled “That’s Gabe.”

Such hype came early for the band with their energetic live performances and very solid self-titled debut extended play. Already playing such renowned events like X -Fest and Viva Pomona while sharing the stage with the likes of Modest Mouse, The Cult and The Spits, they have also been making a big splash in the local circuit, playing everywhere from the Tower Bar to the legendary Casbah.

Bands can build a solid reputation with live performances, but could the Shady Francos deliver on such promise? This record would definitely determine if the Francos were deserving of such attention.

Luckily for us, they deliver the goods with their new four-song release. Kicking open the first track “Bones” with a vocal yelp, The Shady Francos swing through the song’s distorted groove. The vocals are immediate, but even repeated listens will probably have you scratching your head as to what lead singer Joshua Kmak is actually saying. Doesn’t matter: the energy in his delivery comes through with such immediacy that you don’t really have to know what the lyrics are.

That energy continues during the “Bitch Hiss” — this second track flirts with the distorted surf styles that became a staple of the San Diego scene a few years back. Yet, the band manages to sound nothing like it at the same time. Crafting some very catchy verses and almost choruses, the track has you humming along until it’s the you-wish-it-was-longer expiration time.

The last two songs “Can’t Opener” and “Dead Headache” are of great quality as well and they follow the path of the two opening tracks.

With distorted guitars, catchy but undecipherable vocals and a crashing drum beat, “Can’t Opener” even has what could be described as a Lux Interior-esque, introductory vocal squawk. This is befitting of the track since it could have fit perfectly on The Cramps’ “Psychedelic Jungle.”

As for the latter, “Dead Headache” is another highlight in an already great batch of songs. It has some great backing vocals and swinging beat that make you want to dance. You’ll find yourself pressing repeat on this track, just an amazing set closer for this short but sweet collection of songs.

“That’s Gabe” will definitely bring excitement and raise expectations to what the Shady Francos will do next. Hopefully it will be a full length album because this release just makes us want to hear more. A full length album will give them enough room to stretch out and show off another side of their sound.

It’s great to see that the band was able to capture their live energy on this release and there’s plenty to be excited about here. Bands usually struggle delivering such energy when putting songs onto tape. For some bands, it just doesn’t translate well. Here, the band eases through with the confidence of a band on the rise.