The Shaniqua Brown
The Shaniqua Brown

While the Shaniqua Brown’s self-titled new album might be too rough and tough for some, listeners have to admire the inspirational power and eye-popping flamboyance of the Charleston rock band. From the raging riffs and howling harmonies of the album opener “Epic” to the stomping rhythms of closer “Poor House,” the disc rocks hard and steady.

The band spent the better part of the year recording and mixing these 10 new songs. They gained an extra bandmate during the sessions, too. Singer Rachel Kate Gillon, guitarist Thomas Concannon, bassist Denis Blyth, and drummer David Bair clicked so nicely with engineer Jamey Rogers that they hired him as the second guitarist. Rogers and musician/engineer Alan Price co-produced the album at their Collective Recording facility in West Ashley.

The new stuff is plenty powerful. Gillon’s extroverted style serves as a mad counterpoint to the sizzling prog-rock rumbling beneath it. Much of the music strikes the perfect balance between angular songwriting and quirky funk, blues, and indie-pop tendencies. The syncopated “Marriage+Babies” and the more conventionally boogie-ish “Foolish Heart” show off Bair’s sharp technique and crispy snare and kick drum sound, all of which lock in well with Blythe’s tasteful bass work. If the burly, distorted guitar riffs drive much of the music, Gillon’s cheerful sneers add a unique element.

At times, Gillon can be a charming foil to Concannon’s challenging and abrasive guitar style. Her shouty delivery is more soulful and emotive than some might expect. She belts it out, often in double-take harmony with herself. Gillon comes off like a spunky mix of classic P.J. Harvey, Patti Smith, and Siouxsie Sioux. Some vibrato-heavy moments remind the listener of Chrissie Hynde.

The band maintains math-rocker precision throughout the collection, whether they’re grinding like stoner-metal veterans on “Grizzly Man” (featuring Gillon’s finest hollers) or thrashing like well-rehearsed punks on the fast and furious “Bike Ass.”

The Shaniqua Brown barely runs into trouble. It’s consistent and fluid. The industrial strength music can be surreal, groovy, and dark. Gillon’s lyrics about love, fear, lust, and impending doom can be disturbing, fascinating, and amusing. It’s a wild pairing and a marvelous achievement by one of the most offbeat rock bands in the scene. (

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