When the term ‘singer/songwriter’ is used, the stereotype for which it often applies usually conjures up images of a lonely looking gent stood on stage with nothing but his acoustic guitar. They will normally play the same 4 chords all night and sing longingly about love and other contrived ideas, and often in doing so provide forgettable experience for all. Goodbye Twenty Nine however, fails to abide by the orthodox conventions. Whilst this – Max Shire’s second EP – has the usual raw emotion and angst associated with your everyday singer/songwriter, the way in which it is delivered singles it out to be something quite special.
On Goodbye Twenty Nine, Shire doesn’t simply share his emotions, he throws them at us. Displaying angst and anger in equal measure, through a musical form not normally displayed by your everyday solo artist. On his second outing he has the support of a band, allowing his music room to express itself through alternate tunings, abstract time signatures and a wide range of vocal styles, ranging from an eerie drone to the bawling of orders, the range summarised perfectly in opening track ‘Tomorrow My Servant’.
From a guitarist’s point of view the EP offers up a number of flashbacks to 90’s grunge era, with similarities to bands such as Nirvana. In particular ‘Strum’, which features the recurring and powerful strumming of the same 3 chords on the electric guitar during the verses, kicking in to a full-on onslaught of rock music towards the end, with a powerful bridge come solo that would fare well in comparison to the likes of Foo Fighters.
One of the main things on offer here though is the versatility of directions, Max Shire’s ability to mix the heavy with soft in a way only few artists manage sets him aside from the usual crowd. ‘Office Scum’, whilst still having a dark edge, provides us with an injection of energy from a slightly more upbeat guitar riff and quicker vocal rhythms, yet ends on what can only be described as the heavy cranking of a guitar. The structures could be compared to Radiohead, with the sheer unpredictability factor of what could be coming next.
‘TV Evangelist’ completes the spectrum. A delicate, slow-paced and soft anthem, provides it’s thrills through Max’s ability to unleash his vocal range, hitting high notes beside his usual dark tones, before finishing on yet another pounding conclusion that will leave onlookers with sore necks the following morning. The song is a keen example on how the production throughout the entirety of Max’s second EP allows the vocals to reach above the music, coming into their own in a similar fashion to how the likes Richard Ashcroft’s solo work hits our ears. The direction of the production seems all the more appropriate being as the production and mixing for the record was taken care of by Max himself, a measure taken due to harsh cash constraints.
Max Shire’s Goodbye Twenty Nine should not be ignored by any self appreciating rock fan. An artistic, articulate and downright interesting EP that will leave you hoping for more of the same when his debut album is released independently later this year.
The EP is available from www.sharpears.com, and with singles available to download on iTunes.