Nashville’s Th’ Legen-dary Shack Shakers play like they’re giving a fiery sermon in the swamps of hell. The problem they encounter with Swamp-blood is there’s no way for a studio recording to capture the dirty swagger and insane stage antics of a Shack Shakers live show. No way to capture sudden back flips and epileptic self-flagellation with the microphone. No way to illustrate frontman J.D. Wilkes pulling out his own pubic hair or sauntering around in a sweat trying to rile the crowd into a frenzy.
That doesn’t mean Swampblood won’t convert you. The foreboding thump of Mark Robertson’s stand up bass, the muddy guitar riffs of Duane Denison (formerly of The Jesus Lizard) and the circus-like drumming of Bret Whitacre often feel like true believers conducting a creepy séance. Other times, they shift to honky tonk or hillbilly, giving off a sunnier motif, though they’ve always got one foot in Southern gothic grave. “He Ain’t Right” evokes Jerry Lee Lewis while “Angel Lust” swings in the sultry manner of Split Lip Rayfield.
Swampblood doesn’t deliver the same energy as a live show, but you can still appreciate the album’s progression, from its sassy beginning to its graceful end, with the ghostly “When I Die,” and the lonely Appalachian pluck of “Bright Sunny South” easing you to a soft landing.
Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers play the Badlander Monday, June 15, at 9 PM with Rooster Sauce. $10.