As a freelance writer, a lot of music comes across my desk. Most of it is awful. So, when music editor Dave Segal said, "I think this might be up your alley," and then handed me a copy of the debut release by Portland's The Shaky Hands, I was incredulous. For once, however, I'm glad I actually took the time to listen to the album.
Formed in Portland in 2003, The Shaky Hands have spent the past three years on the record, and it's paid off. While it's true that anyone with Internet access can have a band nowadays, it's always good to hear a group that's actually put in some effort.
The Shaky Hands play reasonably straightforward indie pop/rock, but the hooks and lyrics are far stronger than most other artists working within that reliable (but frequently tired) genre. Standout tracks from the debut include "Why and How Come," in which front man Nick Delffs sings, "There's more to your life than you could ever know," in what seems like it could be optimism. "The Sleepless" displays the band's ability to balance bouncy instrumentation with lyrics that present a slightly more resigned view of life's surprises than one might expect from the melody: "The shadow has left me, she put me in my place, but I think I'm fine here, it's a place where I can stay," Delffs sings. Now that's more like it, Nick. Now I want to buy you a beer.
The Shaky Hands at the Prospector, 2400 E. Seventh St., Long Beach, (562) 438-3839. Tues., 9:30 p.m. Call for cover. 21+.