Chain Gang

Shift 87231

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In 2001, Philippine rock band Chain Gang released Shift 87231. The band is comprised of four women who perform vocals, guitar, bass, and drums. The music of Chain Gang is propelled by expressive vocals and imaginative electric guitar work. The bass and drums also add substantially to the group's sound. The songwriting, which is credited to the band, is also compelling. "Groove Bug" works off a blues progression and contains strong, syncopated drumming and bass work, while the vocals are gritty and the guitar fills pungent and keen. The song sounds like something the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion might explore. "Some Summer" has a punkish vibe, and starts on a repeated, fuzz-tone guitar figure before the song's momentum is propelled forward by rambunctious drums. The jingle-jangle effect of the guitar adds an expressive edge. The song's fast, punkish movement ends abruptly and a dreamy, languid sequence is heard. Chain Gang's diversity is also admirable, as witnessed by the slow and mysterious "Heart in the Middle." "Sarcasticat" features voice and acoustic guitar before the electric guitar imparts a harder edge, though the singing remains tender throughout. The guitar work on this song is extraordinary, as is the guitar work on the bluesy "Airhead," one of the album's best songs. Throughout the album, one can hear the melodic sensibility of Juliana Hatfield and the intensity and grit of Courtney Love and Hole. These influences can be heard quite succinctly on "Airhead," among others. This is an excellent album, and one looks forward to hearing more from this band.

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