California bred, Nashville based trio The Ettes have stirred up plenty of noise over the course of four albums, but it was their initial offering Shake the Dust, which established the tempestuous template for all that followed. The trio — Lindsay “Coco” Hames, Maria “Poni” Silver and Jeremy “Jem” Cohen — took their cues from the garage rock revelry that inspired the more boisterous bands that preceded them (the Runaways, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, the early Bangles and pre mainstream Blondie), while pitting sassy vocals astride their rowdy rhythms. Nuance be damed; this bunch was all about snotty nosed attitude and dissing any and all who got in their way.
The vinyl reissue of Shake the Dust serves as a reminder of the group original intents, all punk posturing and nihilistic attitude. Despite the fact it was released a decade ago, the sensibility belongs more to the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, one which would have fit well within the glossy-eyed culture first spawn off from CBGBs and then later reborn and adorned with razor blades, ripped jeans and multi-hued mohawks. It’s brash and bold to be sure, but aside from the surlier stuff like “We Real Each Other,” “It Ain’t You” and “No More Surprises,” there’s little here that indicates any ounce of circumspect. Closing track “I Wanna Go Home” offers a final respite, acoustic guitars replacing the jackhammer thrust of the earlier outings, but here too, the message is self-centered and more concerned with whining than reflection.
Nevertheless, collectors may be enticed by the reissue’s colored vinyl pressing and a bonus offer of two additional downloadable tracks. However, those who have yet to be charmed will likely find Shake It Up something akin to a curiosity. Much better to join The Ettes’ in progress as they plot their way forward towards the future.