One of the best blues-rock musicians on the block departs from the genre on his new record. Alejandro Rose-Garcia, otherwise known as Shakey Graves of Austin, Texas releases his fifth record ‘Cant Wake Up’ and the only pretext for his musical shift was a tweet “Next album. New sound. Sell your suspenders." This album has big goals as Shakey Graves tries to create an entire world. The result is a dense record that takes a few listens before the audience concludes that Shakey Graves creates a wonderful dreamscape.
The cover features this dreamscape surrounded by purple sky, empty buildings, and a blank faced Garcia standing alone, at least at a first glance. A quick examination reveals warped buildings, battered roads, and in the sky another larger Garcia watching the scene through the clouds. The strange scene marks the beginning of the audience’s journey in a truly ethereal environment.
The album begins with Garcia counting into an echo-filled song as he struggles to fall asleep. His desire trumped by wayward thoughts and a passion filled chorus. Aibohphobia is unsettling as listeners watch Garcia walk through an old-timey cartoon. This record is visual; every song no matter the complexity plays out like a scene in a movie. The intensity of ‘Kids These Days’ marks an unsure Garcia with memorable lyrics and a fun driving beat while some songs float so seamlessly the audience can only recall the strangest parts. Dark toned songs like ‘My Neighbor’ and ‘Climb on the Cross’ look at an overarching depravity in humans. However, ‘Dining Alone’ sounds like Garcia embracing his Americana roots while playing some music on the porch with some old friends. The angles this record takes are extreme, but the risk is calculated as Shakey Graves carves out his ideal dreamscape.
Garcia does a masterful job, using covert tactics to engulf the listener in strangeness and wonder. One of the biggest tricks is the double layering of his vocals just slightly out of sync, creating an almost hypnotic sound. Shakey Graves however does not need production tricks as he continues to impress with his depth of lyrics and entrancing music. This record is something the audience can practically reach out and grab. ‘Cant Wake Up’ is the most palpable album of 2018.
Connor Ferrill, age 21, is a junior at Southeastern Louisiana University. A Communication major, Ferrill loves discovering new music, and serves as 90.9 FM KSLU's afternoon drive time host (3pm-6pm).