The Shivas

Better Off Dead (KLP258)

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We’re going to be digesting the 20th century in music for at least as long as it lasted.

The Shivas—most frequently speaking the language of garage and surf and psych, pieces of Nuggets and Pebbles, touring regularly with The Dandy Warhols and playing Austin Psych Fest —have laid down Better Off Dead [KLP258] not with the raucous anarchy of the John Cusack movie of the same name, but instead with this lilting grace of static and radio waves from the past century falling all around, graceful and sweet, studying not the fuzzy chunks that fell off in the wake of the '60s psychedelic crisis. Instead, this is something earlier, slower, not a “new direction,” but just a natural branch off the same tree, familiar, and with some names carved in and scratched out of the trunk.

Better Off Dead [KLP258] is like a hall of mirrors, but instead of seeing yourself everywhere you look, it’s Roy Orbison, and then it's Les Paul & Mary Ford in the fogged glass, and you step outside, and the air is damp and you’re lost in the woods outside Northbend, Washington. There is a youngness and an innocence about The Shivas’ voices, like The Lennon Sisters or Patience & Prudence. And there’s Ray Davies in there, too—a ghost in the mixing board, collecting dust, all old and full of hiss, rattled loose and flying around inside here.

The digital version of this album is available from Bandcamp.

  1. Better Off Dead 
  2. Sad Sad Sorrow 
  3. Never Never Coming Home 
  4. Maryanne 
  5. Off Axis 
  6. Whatever 
  7. Gun in My Pocket (Revisited)
  8. Nine, Six and Three