There’s nothing particularly surprising about Thee Shams, exactly: the topless girl on the cover may shock a few (not Walmart patrons, though – the record’s been banned from the puritanical retailer’s stores), particularly when combined with the album title’s instructions, but the Cincinnati-based band’s bluesy, psychedelic rock is nothing you can’t hear elsewhere. What’s surprising, though, is how many other influences you’ll hear. “Love Me All The Time” is a dramatic Bowie-esque ballad (think “Changes”). Andrew Gabbard’s organ is reminiscent of the Zombies on some tracks, and “Come Down Again,” with a long vocal line, reminds one of what the San Francisco bands of the late ’60s started off sounding like: blues bands with bigger ideas and bolder leaders. In other places, the bass bounces and drummer Keith Fox provides primitive drumming, bright harp, and lust for life.
By ignoring the shadow cast upon blues by the overtly-technical, Thee Shams use Britrock, folk, and psychedelic music to create a hipper sound. Thee Shams, like their label-mates The Black Keys, seem to appreciate that doing the blues right in a post-post-rock age requires less ingenuity and more showmanship, taste and restraint. By doing the right thing and doing it well, bands like Thee Shams are making it safe to listen to the blues once again.