The band Shovels doesn't have much internet presence, and their only album—a cassette that sold out after 100 copies—is from 2013, the year they became a band. That's fine, and probably preferred. This isn't a group trying to get people to start a dance party or open a dialogue or share feelings. They're more like the gnawing voice in your head you try to ignore, warning you that the world is about to implode.
In "Car Yards," from the eponymous cassette, guitarist Michael Beach paints a scene of "chickens scratching" and "children clambering over nothing at all." Shimmering riffs knock against each other until they dissolve into cacophony. "Then set in slow paranoia and mistrust of all my neighbors and my fellow man," Beach continues as the tempo slows and the song begins to feel like it's being pulled apart, muscle from bone.
Shovels, which played Missoula before, in 2015, is split between members from Melbourne, Australia, and San Francisco, but if you didn't know much about them you might place them somewhere in Washington, D.C., circa 1992, along with bands like Moss Icon, which had already put a dent in the post-punk scene, and Universal Order of Armageddon, which was pushing a similarly foreboding style.
Shovels is maybe even more adept at noise rock than those bands, though. Repetitive riffs and drum rolls evoke mysteriousness. Maybe it's rattling cans and wind chimes we're hearing, hard to say, but it sounds cool and unsettling, like a seductive, slithering, sometimes barbaric creature coming for you. And I can't imagine how they do it live.
Shovels play Free Cycles Sat., May 13, at 6 PM, along with Fantasy Suite and Cex Sells. $6.