In a city with as many psych bands as there are microbreweries, you’d be hard-pressed to find a group with as extensive and consistent a discography as the Shivas. Behind five full-length albums and what’s quite possibly the single best garage-pop song to come out of the Northwest (“You Make Me Wanna Die” from 2014’s You Know What to Do), the Portland three-piece is a steady force in an ever-changing local music scene.
The Shivas’ latest EP, Turn Me On, is their third release through the seminal Los Angeles tape label Burger Records, with vinyl to be released on Annibale Records. While it doesn’t leave behind the group’s 1960s rock iconography—lo-fi, reverberated lead vocals, and bouncy guitar hooks woven together with ohhhing-and-ahhhing vocal harmonies (“I Hear You Screaming,” “Turn Me On”)—Turn focuses more attention on the sultry, down-tempo tracks.
With the exception of the title song, which is closer to straight-up garage-pop via a Tarantino soundtrack, Turn plays with ebbing and flowing tempo shifts (“Honey”) that make for more slow-burning tracks to sit with rather than twist your hips to. “So Cold” is a quiet, crawling-pace song, built around an echoing guitar riff that sounds closer to Isaac Brock than the Sonics. This departure is welcome, though, as Kristin Leonard’s subtly exploding drum finish is one of the best moments across the Shivas’ decade-spanning career. The EP closes with another slow burner, “Every Day,” where lead vocalist Jared Molyneux’s refrains fade out as softly as they faded in.
Garage rock at its best evokes not only a feeling of an era, but of a specific, personal place and time—like that summer day spent drinking beer and eating watermelon at the swimming hole. At its worst, it’s the aesthetic backdrop of a bar that calls itself a venue so they can charge a couple extra bucks for drinks. On Turn, the Shivas further solidify themselves as practitioners of the former. While the EP doesn’t evoke the raucous summer party Shivas fans have come to expect, it does play like a long, brutally hot day—the kind where the only thing to do is open up all the doors and windows, sit on the back patio with a book, and try to take in a breeze.