The pride of The Shames


The Shames consider themselves to be following the “grand New York tradition” of bands such as The Velvet Underground, The Ramones, and more recently The Strokes. Other than all those groups having a good amount of success, the primary aspect that they have in common is their embrace of their originating city: the great New York. Though main singer and lead guitarist Tim Archer is originally from New Jersey, the band came to form in the city after the demise of Archer’s previous band (Most Sordid Pies). After beginning to write songs for his solo project, Archer felt an itch to form another band. Through his producer John Siket, he met bassist Jim D and hit it off with him. Archer also called his good friend Karin Roach and offered her the opportunity to drum and sing backup vocals. They both joined what is now called The Shames and recorded their debut album, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, which released last Thursday. The stereotype for a good drummer is usually a large male with great upper body strength, so when a woman like Karin Roach can play the drums with great skill and sing at the same time, it’s very unique and enjoyable. Besides Sleater-Kinney’s Janet Weiss, I haven’t encountered many woman drummers, so it’s a nice thing to see.


The Shames have a very straightforward and contemporary alternative sound, similar to their friendly locals The Strokes. The Shames are much more guitar-driven though, brewing up recognizable melodies that are more complex and precise than The Strokes could even dream of in their early days. ‘Feel So Sad’ works with a simple chorus of lowering chords, followed by the stereotypical guitar solo after the chorus. The song works well with the mixture of influences, notably Teenage Fanclub. Archer is predominately and intentionally lacking any great emotion during most of the song, until he lets it all out for the last minute of the song or so with some sorrowful shouts over Roach’s backing repeated verse. Each and every component of the song fits well when listened to in its entirety, crediting the trio’s songwriting skills. ‘Blame’ is filled with more angst, occasionally reminiscent of Nirvana and early Weezer. Their opinion of their own lyrical generality is of people stuck in suburan hell, which I can personally relate to. The hooks that Archer delivers on songs such as ‘Blame’ and ‘Tried To Be Lonely’ are difficult to match among new bands these days. In contemporary New York music terms, The Shames offer the catchiness of The Strokes and the structural ingenuity of Interpol, all while holding on to their own sound led by the melodic hooks of Tim Archer.


The Shames – Feel So Sad



The Shames – Blame



The Shames – Tried To Be Lonely



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Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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