It’s not easy to have a sound that’s legitimately comparable to the likes of Big Star, The Replacements, and The Byrds, all groups who seemed to effortlessly churn out hook-filled good vibes within an accessible arsenal of rock, pop, and folk — with a touch of psychedelia here and there. Their music is practically ear-candy; it’s the type of tunes that immediately hit listeners with their strong melodies and harmonies alone. The difficulty of replicating this type of sound makes me weary of any submission that claims these folk-rock and power-pop classics as comparable reference points, mainly because it’s just so hard to do; it’s sort of like noting The Beatles or Led Zep as legit sound-alikes. Not gonna happen. Anyway, excellent Seattle-based rock trio Shmohawk actually live up to their own comparisons, with their penchant for hook-filled ear candy.
It was difficult for me to pick out a single track to feature off Shmohawk’s superb self-titled debut album. It’s a strong enough album start to finish that such deliberation was required. In the end, I figured showcasing album opener “Believe It’s Done” would do the release justice. It’s a concisely enjoyable flash of infectiousness, with acoustic shuffles, jangly accompaniments, and a melody that would make The Replacements proud. Underneath Shmohawk’s power-pop reverberations are also a sentimental, almost acoustic sentimentality, willingly demonstrative of a playful musical personality, similar to a Bruce Springsteen or Jonathan Richman. Emotive, acoustic-based gems like “Plastic” also have hints of the first few Gin Blossoms releases, specifically their first two albums (Dusted and New Miserable Experience).
Oftentimes, groups that cite power-pop legends as inspiration tend to fall short in their comparisons. I believe Shmohawk are certainly qualified to make a reference to such influences, primarily because they seem to possess a similar knack for seemingly effortless, hook-packed tracks with an enjoyable cohesion of nonchalance and emotive personality. Stream the album in its entirety below and purchase it at a name-your-own-price value on Bandcamp: