RIYL: Steely Dan, G. Love, Rufus Wainwright
While the landscape is positively littered with pop culture-spewing, post-ironic hipsters, Roy Shakked, the one-man wrecking crew that is Silverlake’s Holmes, gets a free pass solely for “Let Go,” the opening track on his band’s self-titled effort and easily the best stoner song Steely Dan never wrote. Like Donald Fagen, Shakked is smart and a little bored, delivering his detached vocals over pristinely arranged café pop songs awash in sunny backing vocals. The most unintentionally funny thing about Holmes is how hard it tries to slack; “Gone” quotes Cameo’s “Word Up” just a tad behind the beat in traditional So-Cal hip hop style, and has one of those plinkety-plink hip hop piano bits propelling it along, but the album is far too ornate to be the work of a slacker. Shakked pulls an unpredictable left turn on “Go Computer,” a Weezer-esque guitar stomper with vocals smothered in slap echo. It’s a neat trick, but he’s clearly more comfortable mining mellow gold.
The heart of a showman beats inside these songs – wait until you hear what he’s done to David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” – and the sooner Holmes embraces it, the better off he’ll be. He’s good now, but the cutesy stuff is holding him back. (Groove Gravy Records 2009)