RED HOT SHAME – You Can’t Make Me

Shameful 2023

You Can’t Make Me

American eclectics are beamed back down on mortal coil to change the world order – or, at least, rearrange it for the listener’s pleasure.

Nobody is able to force this collective to dwell on a particular spot for an amount of time going beyond a single album – the title of their third full-length effort in three years may suggest just that – and whereas 2022’s "My Satellite" found the Californian crew in orbit, its successor sees them bust out the ensemble’s mascot, a giant chicken, in a forest near the field where their 2017 debut “Curiosity” originally planted the fluffy beast. They don’t return to the erstwhile multi-instrumental brilliance, however, as the team leader, singer Xeff Scolari, has discarded his varied armory in favor of acoustic six strings in order to focus on faux simplicity of the dozen fresh cuts. The results of such a change are rather confusing, yet satisfactory.

It’s difficult to go wrong with a record starting with a song which bears a girl’s name, so “Sophie” seems to crawl under the listener’s skin from the beginning – only offering a sorrowful twang by way of intimacy instead of rollicking welcome one could expect from this group before the chorus direct their chthonic Appalachia towards the cosmic blues of “Miserable” that envelops Ryan Wilson’s guitar riffs in heavy and riveting funereal abandon. Fortunately, “Unscripted” stages a half-comical march for the audience to latch on and finally feel the tentative magnificence of the band inclined to have fun, if privately, and “What’s Mine” digs into rock to bare robust groove – driven by Spencer Kennedy’s bass and drums and Scolari’s vocals to exhaustion until “Stone” enters muddy waters to wade through with swagger, and the frantic “Vampire Empire” goes for a gloomy chase of existential angst. Still, while harmonica and electric piano turn “Better Alone” into a swampy serenade to solitude, the solemnly dark “Give in” lends a friendly hand to warm, and sometimes menacing, psychedelia, and the aggressive “Both” adds coldness to the platter’s flabbergasting blend of styles.

As though to puzzle the punters even more, the arrestingly wailing “Methodical” opts for vaudevillian pastiche ‘n’ panache and bring a smile to the saddest of faces and pass momentum to the viscous “I’m Ready For You To Go” to compromise its balladry with emotional splashes of noise until the album’s titular finale unveils genuine sentimentality to outline the purest Americana of all. So yes, wandering spirits they may be, but the ensemble’s unwillingness to follow the will of others is the very definition of their knowing that chicken’s place in the grand scheme of things – knowing where they stand.


January 10, 2024

Category(s): Reviews
Tags: , ,