Dead Friends weave a rich tapestry of 60s surf rock, the traditional fever of garage rock, and the melodies of country and western.

On their sophomore album Shirley, Dead Friends clearly display their influences. Taking cues from modern idols like Ty Segall or classic icons like The Zombies, the Edmonton-based garage/psych/western/surf/whatever-you-want-to-call-them band weave together a rich tapestry of Los Angeles 60’s surf rock incorporating the traditional feverishness of garage rock with the melodies of country and western.

Despite all of the efforts at comparisons, the energy displayed on Shirley is disparate. After being greeted by a bass line and organ that blend so seamlessly on opener “Honey Darts”, you understand the band is revving up to take you on a high octane journey through genre and time. The pure stamina of this record is impressive: the punch of the guitars, the driving snares, or even the sporadic yells make you feel as though you stumbled into a dive bar only to discover your new favourite band. One of the album’s best moments, “1912”, opens with a band member desperately pleading for a break from recording but is quickly dismissed by slick guitar licks and pounding drums. There is no respite on this album, and I welcome the unyielding force with each ensuing listen.

Perhaps one of the most compelling aspects of Shirley is the country/western influence. Compared to their self-titled debut, the maturation of the band’s sound creates more complex textures that push Shirley past the initial garage rock flurries. The new western sounds keep this album engaging and add to the rich production value. Standout tracks like “Uncle Is An Eremite” and “Wells” will make you think “Why isn’t there more garage/western rock out there?”

On Shirley, Dead Friends have created an album that not only pushes the boundary of the garage but blows the whole damn roof off the shed.

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