The Red Handed take their time crafting melodies and choosing tone. It’s really rewarding and to their credit as you can’t take for granted the proper traits any up-and-comer should respect. This Michigan-born group has a very tight grip on what they want and what they are about. Their album Shell Shocked is focused and well groomed. They weren’t afraid to take risks and expand their sonic landscape. From my first few seconds of aural introduction, I knew this band was the real deal.
“Big Apple, 3 A.M.” is a thought-provoking title and an even more intriguing experience to listen to. The guitars feather and twinkle like the strange feeling you might get when you are suddenly lost. There’s a sense of mystery and danger in the tone and outlining melody. It’s built up beautifully and plows head first into a hard-hitting chorus that rivals any alternative rock’s passion compositionally. I love how the moods stay tense, but the music finds space to lighten, to dampen and to bring it home. Especially unique performance on the drums, it’s clear the drummer was acting on feeling with all the cymbal transfers and against the grain fills. It all works in the end and establishes, what I would call, this album’s single.
“Alleycat Blues” moves atypically, not stressing any verse or repeating the chorus. The calm before the storm segues right into the heat of it and then slides painlessly into a drum fueled swell before bringing out the punches and chokes. The song is finding ways to prolong progression when I think it should press on and get the vocals back into the fray. They roll and roar so skillfully, a tenor with strain and range so compelling I’m reminded of Fair To Midland’s front man. “Technodrome: Let's Kick Shell!” – again, hard title to forget and in that light, the song is much of the same. I’m very impressed with how the guitar sound shapes over time. The drums are busy but balanced and it makes for heightened listening.
The Red Handed show a somewhat eclipsed version of themselves on the frantic hard-edged punk riot that is “Skull & Crossbones.” It generally doesn’t fit the bill of what is happening on Shell Shocked, considering such growth and beauty have spread their wings up until this diversion of chaos. To each their own, but I was left with the wrinkled face of disapproval, regardless of whether it was just to show their thrash side or not. And then there’s “Starbase.” Gorgeous elongated chords leave room for cymbal colors and articulate guitar, permeating notes out in rapidly vibrating waves, high and soft; the delicate pearls find hearty purchase in disciplined bass and anchoring drums. This really was a treat to hear.
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