Shone - Heat Thing
Record Label: Procrastinate! Music Traitors
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Reposted on social networks across the board, this phrase single-handedly stirred up an unforgettable viral campaign and AP.net's longest thread to date.
Speculation exploded as clues from the Brand New, Manchester Orchestra, Kevin Devine, Thrice, Balance and Composure, Sainthood Reps, and mewithoutYou camps cultivated. Brand New was a business now, apparently being run from drummer Brian Lane's home. Creepy windmills, back-masked speaking, monsters, trailer parks and graffiti made us aware of something by the name of "Shone", with another phrase "heatthing" marking the horizon. So the fans waited it out.
"Levi Gudmundson" appeared as a mysterious name sending out ink-splattered, handwritten letters to the Northeast coast. Weird photos and snippets of lyrics kept us wanting more (especially those of us who would have loved to have received a letter first-hand), and the guesses stacked up until one song finally surfaced…from underneath a birdhouse.
Would Brand New finally be releasing new music (as both 'Devil' and God' could be made out in Levi's name)?
Were they album titles, song titles, or even a change in title?
Negative, captain. However, we do find ourselves with one of the biggest, most interesting (not to mention polarizing) side projects the indie community has ever seen. “Piano Wire Number 12” is an unexpected whirr of electronics (which seem to flourish throughout the album), industrial guitar and the pristine drumming combination of Brain Lane (Brand New) and Ben Homolla (Bad Books & Manchester Orchestra). Immediately polarizing listeners, the vocals of Andrew Accardi (Robbers, brother of guitarist Vin Accardi) fall somewhere in between Isaac Brock and Robert Smith and often become the focal point of the span of Heat Thing.
Second song “Metal Bones” is atmospheric gold, allowing the true concept of the record set in- a man sitting in prison, “trying not to remember” flashbacks of a gruesome crime he has committed after visiting a strip club. Winding guitars, faint electronics and distant vocals make “Metal Bones” a standout track. After a briefly odd and creepy transition, we find ourselves in the midst of “Defender 237”. This rush of an instrumental introduces another subtle highlight of Heat Thing, which is the light use of horns. They provide a jazz vibe over-top of excellent guitar work found in both “Defender” and “Black Death”.
This brings us to “Baby Shakes”. Oh yes…“Baby Shakes”. The second Shone single released, this is the song to either make or break this band for you, depending on who’s listening. Many despise the odd vocal structure and absurd lyrics, but within the context of the album, I feel like it could be the most fun pirate-romp Modest Mouse never wrote. Although official lyrics have yet to be released for the album, there’s no mistaking the strip club scene unfolding as whispers of “prostitute” can be heard after each verse, and of course, the upfront chorus call of “She’s an earthquake, milkshake!”
“Black Death” is executed perfectly, capturing the feeling of a dark and rainy Saturday night. “Kin” is a centerpiece of the album, lengthy and showcasing the most concentrated musical and vocal work of the band’s debut. As the degree to which you may take Shone seriously may waiver throughout Heat Thing’s duration, “Kin” is that moment where you can catch a possible glimpse of the future of this band. However, next-to-last track “Slithering” puts a halt to the momentum, pushing Shone’s erratic delivery into the stratosphere and feeling far too forced compared to the rest of the album.
Closer “Bestial” brings things back down a notch, with Andrew Accardi’s hardly comprehensible ranting (reminiscent of Johnny Depp, for some reason or another) serving as an introduction before springing into stylish insanity that ends Heat Things on more of a solid note than it may have begun on. Have no doubts, this album is a grower. Missteps can be found throughout, but Heat Thing’s imperfections will come to be what so many will love about it in the future. Some will love it, some will hate it, but the beauty of this is that Shone won’t notice…as long as they got you to notice.
I suppose all us Brand New apologists can do now is sit back, take a deep breath, and enjoy an ice cold earthquake milkshake.
Also, Mike Sapone's production is almost always beautiful. For as much of a negative reception this album has seen since its release (comparable to how Daisy was received), I'd be surprised if it wasn't still talked about around the indie community given a few years.