Music » Livewire

Thee Shams

With Immortal Lee County Killers and Black Diamond Heavies. Friday, October 14, at the Beachland Tavern.


This Cincinnati band is firmly in gripe mode. The title and many of the lyrics on its latest, Sign the Line (Shake It), are bitchy references to the faded garage-rock trend. These guys were in the thick of the post-Strokes feeding frenzy of 2002-'03. The band played a groggy version of early '70s blues stomp, often on the same bill with pals the Greenhornes, who were tight with the White Stripes. One can only imagine the silly business-card-sliding and two-faced glad-handing Thee Shams have witnessed along the way.

Admirably, Thee Shams never heeded A&R weasels' requests to sweeten the sound and shed a few pounds. Then again, this bunch never really rose above the level of a bar band either. Like Thee Shams' Midwest compadres the Sights and Greenhornes, the band favors a midtempo, organ-heavy vibe. Thee Shams can bang out some good ragtime rockin' and eventually approximate a trash-can Cream. But basically, they're the guitar-shop guy's idea of a neo-garage band -- sturdy, proficient, faceless. It's often hard to distinguish the mostly mopey strumming and proud everyman stance from a plain lack of personality. So Sign the Line feels like a post-hype hangover, but the live show is still pretty drunken.

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