It's a well-known fact that most band names are essentially gobbledygook, but here at Rocks Off we're trying hard to find meaning in the oddest monikers.
HPMA-winning group the Handshake's music sounds like it's being pulled out of an old radio one note at a time by an angst-ridden teenager with a pair of pliers. The sound is somewhat thin and stretched, with high-pitched vocals and guitar melodies that dance above you on the ceiling just out of reach. Songs like "Soldier" speak poignantly, even with elegance, but at the core the music remains something unsettled and waiting.
That being said, the band's American Arguments EP does speak wonders for the band's potential. Indie-rock, Radiohead sensibilities collide with a distinctive Texas semi-country sound in a way that cleaves both sides together on "The River." David Elkin's guitar brings a solid blues presence on "South," including a simple but tremendously powerful solo outing near the end, but drummer and singer Lucas Eason doesn't really have the tortured voice of good blues. He's much more at home in the Canned Acoustica version of "Soldier," where he pulls in his performance down a half-step and shows his obvious connection for roots a bit more clearly.
We'd like to see the Handshake in the grip of Magnolia Red, guiding them into the full exploration of what they can do. Until then, we'll impatiently watch them level grind into something grand. That name, though...