The Shaking Hands hail from Gainesville, one of the few oases of bearable living in the deceptively idyllic state of Florida. Sharing half of their ranks with Young Livers, the feisty foursome play fist-pumping street punk well-informed of both the close-shorn and spiky ends of the spectrum. It’s a bit of a departure for a band from Gainesville, as Hot Water Music still wields a formidable influence over the jewel of Alachua County. Punk rock super-indie No Idea Records and its companion punk rock Fall Social The Fest continue to cast a long shadow in G-Ville, but The Shaking Hands are much more from the whoa-oh end of the spectrum, and not in a cheesy MxPx sort of a way.
Cut from the same working-class cloth as Rancid and The Clash, The Shaking Hands are pissed, and not (just) in the drunk way, either. Founded in the wake of the right-wing reactionary opinions that were no doubt endemic to in Florida post 9/11, The Shaking Hands the band and The Shaking Hands the record definitely represent for the common people. Populist science is dropped all over their eponymous debut. Check out “History Does What?” for a taste of where the kids are coming from. Drop the laser and you’ll find The Shaking Hands comes out the gate swinging. “Liars Are For Punching” sets the mood nicely, but the gents play it a little close to the vest for the first five or so songs. Then things really start catching fire. Even with the slow start, all of your favorite punk rock components are here: the band is tight, the hooks are big and virtually every chorus is a sing a long. “Battling Decay” has one of the best in the lot and the breakdowns in “Breathe” and “Jackson’s Hole” are not to be sold short either. Trust me, you’ll like this.
The eleven songs on The Shaking Hands pass in under a half hour, but you get a bumper crop of whoa-oh and gang vocal parts in that time. Breakdowns and syncopated vocal parts are in full effect, tailor-making most of the tunes for PBR-fueled beardo sing-a-longs from Gainesville to San Diego. Even seeming missteps like “You Should Really Get That Looked At” and its acoustic faux-Strummer intro are pretty much exonerated by its explosive electric coda. More importantly, they walk it like they talk it. A lot of faux-politico punk franchises spew a lot of dogma, but still make time to play tours sponsored by car and soft drink companies. The Shaking Hands are coming a little bit deeper than that, even going so far as to claim that they want to make ‘music of significance’ on “I Believe This Knife Is Yours”. The Shaking Hands seem to have accomplished their goal. With their self-titled debut, these sons of the Sunshine State come correct with the music and the message.