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April 25, 2014 at 6:31 AM

What the Shook Twins do: make great music | Concert preview

It’s entirely appropriate that Portland’s Shook Twins, who play the Tractor Tavern Friday, April 25, named their vibrant new studio offering “What We Do.”

After churning out three studio albums and two live records in six years, making good music is, indeed, what Idaho natives Katelyn and Laurie Shook “do.”

“It feels really good, like it’s got some steam and momentum,” said the band’s lead singer, Katelyn, of the new album. “We’re really proud of it.”

The Shook Twins have every right to be proud. Produced by Bear Creek’s Ryan Hadlock (The Lumineers, Elephant Revival), “What We Do” holds its own in the current epoch of West Coast indie folk-rock that includes bands like local darlings The Head and the Heart.

The identical twins have already drawn praise from best-selling author Neil Gaiman (“music that twines through your soul”) and their single, “Shake,” about a catastrophic earthquake, was premiered by USA Today.

“There’s some end of the world stuff that seeped into my brain,” Shook said of the apocalyptic themes that pop up on the album. “Our bass player talks about it a lot, this huge earthquake bound to hit the West Coast in the next 100 years. It’s pretty freaky to think about.”

The new music isn’t just doom and gloom. Shook said there are plenty of love songs (“Hooks,” “Awhile”) to balance out some of the more serious things.

One of the biggest changes with the new album is the addition of a drummer and electric instruments on every song, which gives the music a pleasing kineticism without cluttering things up. The change is immediately apparent on the bouncy album opener “Thoughts All In,” where a subtle snare drum helps drive the song forward.

“We’d write a song and it would sound like us, but as soon as we bring the electric bass, electric guitar and drums, you have this total new element of groovy soul,” Shook said. “It definitely kind of popped out on the record. We got a great drummer. His name is Russ Kleiner. He has a great mind for adding new parts to songs that make it more dynamic and exciting.”

Some fans might miss the simplicity of the Shook twins’ earlier songs, but “What We Do” represents a big leap forward for the sister act, cementing the idea that making music is what they’ll be doing for a long time to come.

The Shook Twins, Steve Poltz

8 p.m. Friday, April 25, at the Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W.; $12 (206-789-3599 or tractortavern.com)

Comments | More in Americana, Folk, Rock/Pop | Topics: "What We Do", Concert Preview, The Shook Twins

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