Perhaps it’s the endless rain, the lush rolling greenery, or the sheer number of gig venues and record stores that makes Portland such fertile plains for indie rock bands. Either way, it’s quickly become the beehive of an ever-burgeoning swarm of Pacific north West talent.
Championed by regional papers and the trophy lot to local label Holocene, Shaky Hands are currently riding high on the cusp of Portland’s indie-rock wave. “Our aspirations are to be a cozy rock ‘n’ roll band, if you will,” reveals bassist Mayhaw Hoons, discussing the band’s future. “It’s more about reaching out to the audience and listeners.” It’s this humble approach to music-making that has transformed city boys Shaky Hands from modest indie fledglings into North West favourites.
Nick Delffs, Jeff Lehman, Jake Morris and Mayhaw make the kind of rootsy indie rock that is at once familiar - almost ordinary - yet honest and wonderfully endearing. They aren’t trying to be anyone, and nor is their music a nod towards any kind of fashionable scene. They’re simply content making personally-touched music that appeals to our very senses. ‘Lunglight’, released last July, is Shaky Hand’s poppiest LP to date, combining heaps of infectious choruses with jangly pop melodies. Effortlessly immersing the listener into its blissful world, it’s the kind of earthy, naturally appealing sound that springs to life in a live environment.
On stage, Shaky Hands wed their inviting soundscapes with a distinctly anti-hedonistic philosophy that allows them to connect with a live audience like no other. On remaining personal and rejecting on-stage swagger, Mayhaw says: “When you suddenly gain mystical powers that no other human possesses, then you can act cool. It’s a bummer when you have to preface a band you love with ‘I know he’s an asshole, but…’ You can still love a band that has a snooty outlook, but it takes away that personal element that helps you connect even more.”
While the agreeable quartet list Led Zeppelin and The Kinks amongst their primary influences, Shaky Hands’ brand of indie rock is colloquial, drawing from regional giants like Modest Mouse and The Shins. Heavily involved in local goings on, Shaky Hands are very much Portland groomed, in common with a bubbling pool of similar sounding bands, from the Parenthetical Girls to The Joggers. But, as Mayhaw insists, distinguishing themselves from the North West herd hasn’t proved too difficult. “I think half of it is kinda instinct; your personal way of doing things. The other half comes from looking at what is around you and thinking ‘What could I do to make it better?’”
While Shaky Hands have established themselves as local heroes, breaking free from the North West’s’ very insular scene is notoriously difficult. But with the band’s stock rising higher than ever, it’s surely only a matter of time before the indie darlings burst through not only the NW barriers but the nation’s, charming the world over, step by step.