Review Summary: Despite suffering from mild schizophrenia and a lack of true identity, Shake My Hand is a charming introduction to a band with tremendous ambition and the talent to back it up.
It’s always an interesting affair when the control of the car stereo is in the hands of somebody other than yourself. I cannot count how many family road trips have been ruined by my father insisting on listening to ‘Life Is a Highway’ on repeat, nor can I properly express the silent agony I suffer in the passenger seat when a friend of mine turns on ‘Party in the USA’. Yet on a recent coastal Californian road trip north with some friends, hidden amongst less-than-favorable tunes and playlists was the song ‘Cough Syrup’ by The Jakes. The song is essentially just an extremely well-written and buoyant Coldplay/The Killers hybrid tune with a sprinkle of pop punk thrown into the mix - only even catchier
. Taken by surprise, I listened closely in the backseat as vocalist Sameer Gadhia skillfully flaunted his Adam Levine impression amongst a wave of hooks, lyricism and a pair of oh-so-tasteful indie rock guitar lines. As the last slick notes of ‘Cough Syrup’ panned out in the vehicle, I thanked the gods of good music for giving me a breath of fresh aural air and reminded myself to investigate The Jakes further.
That was, as you may have guessed, an excellent
Shake My Hand
is The Jakes’ only release at this point in time (their Roadrunner full length debut is due sometime in the following year), and the tidy collection of songs leaves an incredibly good, if perhaps impermanent, impression. As noted, The Jakes’ sound isn’t really the most original in the lot - at times, their eclectic instrumentation and grooves recall the confident experimentalism of As Tall As Lions, while at other times, the band may as well just be covering bands like Mute Math or The Last Goodnight. However, amidst all their unpaid royalties to bigger bands in the scene, it’s wholly commendable to recognize how the band managed to not plagiarize themselves
at all on Shake My Hand
. All seven songs on the EP have a complete individuality of their own; the band undoubtedly understands the concept of variation. The smarmy shuffle of the commanding ‘Paid the Piper’ and the careful climaxes of ‘Garands at Normandie’ are prime examples of the band’s catchier, exciting numbers while the relaxed ‘Take Me Home’ feels right at home in the track list, despite sounding eerily familiar to industry giant Jack Johnson. The fast paced gallop of the very Maroon 5-esque ‘Schizophrenia’ juxtaposes quirkily with the classic-indie vibe of its partner song ‘Shake My Hand’ (a tune complete with an extended guitar and handclap outro) while closer ‘Texas Tea’ appropriately concludes the EP in a fittingly grand and slightly motivational manner - layered wordless vocals, strings, drawn out ending and all.
The only thing that makes Shake My Hand
disappointing is The Jakes’ complete lack of identity - if all the name-dropping didn’t give you a clue, I’ll make it clear: The Jakes aren’t very original. Although they refrain from doing the same thing twice on Shake My Hand
, they employ the highest form of flattery far too often, dampening the impact of their brilliant pop hooks ever so slightly. Yet despite their accidental (or perhaps purposeful?) mimicry, Shake My Hand
is a very impressive and varied EP from a band brimming with potential. You’ll want to keep an eye on the band now, just so you can say “I knew these guys before they were popular
” next year.