The Shang’s Tales of the Wild South West showcases the rockers in a refined state of reflection, equipped with dirty tones, pulsing bass, and agile drumming.
Camden heavyweights The Shang are back with some stories to tell. So, leave your TNs at the door, and prepare your head for the Tales of the Wild South West.
Last week, following some heavy drinking, Camden heavyweights The Shang played three shows at The Lord Gladstone in Sydney, to commemorate the release of their second EP, Tales of the Wild South West. Before the pandemic, this would have been just any other week for the cowboys, but times have changed. With new issues, such as COVID-19 crushing the music industry, come new questions. For example, what should a dusty rock band do when performing a socially-distanced gig? The answer can be found in their tired eyes. Persevere. And that’s what they did.
Interestingly, I also believe perseverance to be the thematic crux of Tales of the Wild South West. The gravelly rock vocals from frontman Zac Gomez remain, but now they growl about decisions and revelations, recounting experiences and epiphanies found from friends, girls, time on the road, and the bottom of a beer glass. In contrast to their debut EP Kiki, there’s a mature recognition of the long road ahead, even if you happen to be an intriguing band with catchy hooks and magnetic stage presence (though you’ll never hear The Shang say this).
It’s an exhausting path, but “it’s where we belong”, Gomez proclaims on lead single, Long Way Up. The rhythmic delay throughout this opening track is infectious, and its lively bass line separates the band from other Sydney rock outfits that simply stick to the root notes. It’s obvious the boys crave arena sing-alongs with this track, given its pulse and lyrical repetition.
The next track Another Day brings the mood down with a simple two-chord structure, holding reflective lyrics that dabble in relationship fuck-ups and the ever-popular vice known as alcohol. It’s not the strongest melody on the EP, neither the tightest song instrumentally, but its honesty and subtle slide guitar are both excellent. The final line, sung without backing, is also chilling.
Next up is Games, which feels like a huge flex the whole way through, and could easily pass as a cut from Sticky Fingers‘ 2013 album, Caress Your Soul. Its mesh of rock, reggae, and rap grooves along with spite and passion, making for one of the band’s most compelling tracks. “I’m a twisted motherfucker with a voice inside my head” is convicting as hell, and the surprise Rops1 feature embodies the same no-bullshit attitude to a tee.
The high energy continues onto String Along, with its jangly electric guitars, punchy drums, and irresistible chorus. The lyrical content again focuses on perseverance: “So here I go, trying to make sense of what I don’t know.” We’re hearing a deeper, more emotive side to The Shang, previously unexplored. The post-chorus breakdown is undeniable and serves as the rock equivalent of a bass drop, for lack of a better description. Check out the single’s mirthful film clip below, shot at none other than The Lord Gladstone. It’s the band’s second home at this point.
Finally, we reach On The Fence, a gut-punching closer penned by the band’s newfound drummer Diego, as he considers whether to stay in the band or not (I bet that song title makes more sense now). Boasting the catchiest chorus on the EP, The Shang have created their ultimate beery singalong, a rock anthem of almost Oasis calibre. The double-time chorus at the end serves as a sonically rewarding surprise, but it’s also a fitting way to wrap up the EP.
The boys are getting older, the music scene is increasingly demanding, and life is becoming more complicated. However, through it all, perseverance is prevailing. These are the tales of the wild South West, but the story is far from over.
Tales of the Wild South West is out now on all platforms, grab your copy here.