Today's highlighted Madison-based musical act is Flame Shark.
Though it's barely been a year since they coalesced as a group, the musicians that make up Flame Shark have been very busy making music. They released two albums of their folk-flavored psychedelic rock last summer and subsequently toured throughout Wisconsin. Garnering comments about their harmonizing ways, the band is preaching hard for a classic rock revival.
Here is how Flame Shark describes itself:
Imagine how deadly yet captivating a shark can be. Now imagine how deadly and captivating a flaming shark would be. Now imagine how amazing a flaming shark that played musical notes would be. Good, that's a fine place to start.
Now imagine a giant blender. Into that blender cast this flaming musical shark along with a songwriter's soul, the contagious sparkle of the California Smile sound, the warmth of rich, full, inviting tones and textures, a pinch of psychedelic paprika, and a healthy dose of lyrical and musical honesty and you've got the beginnings of Flame Shark shake. Be warned, leave all irony, labeling, ego-tripping, power-playing, and general snobbishness out of your shake. Flame Shark does not tolerate posing or posturing.
We will play anywhere, open or close for anyone, and will play for any amount of money.
This is but a very brief and truncated version of the complete Flame Shark manifesto, though, which provides an in-depth description of the band's history and approach to their music.
This history began in late 2005, when the group's songwriter, lead vocalist, guitarist (and harmonica player) Justin Jahnke moved from Baton Rouge to Madison, and subsequently joined forces with Mike "Goldenwings" Meske (bass, vocals, harmonica) and Rusty "LaRue" Lee (backing vocals, keyboards, organ and electric piano). The quartet was finally rounded out with the addition of Alex Boyes (drums and engineering), at which point they immediately got to work with writing and recording a bumper harvest of songs.
By the spring of 2006, Flame Shark took their plethora of recordings and released two albums. The first was Release This, You Bloodsuckers!, an EP featuring eight tracks. Then there is Midnight on Pearl Beach, the band's fourteen song, full-length debut. This received generally positive reviews not only from Madison-based media outlets, but from listeners outside of town too, as Flame Shark began to gather an online following.
This started out with the rock'n'roll radio podcast named The BZT Weekly, which is independently operated by WMMM deejay Jeff Black. In June 2006, shortly following the release of Midnight on Pearl Beach, Black featured noted
As the band started touring through the summer and autumn to promote the albums, more recordings were published online. Fans can listen to their full set as performed at Mr. Roberts on Nov. 9, 2006. That same month, the band also gave a four part interview on WORT's Running With Scissors program; this audio is archived in Gimp Radio, Lucas Osmond's online streaming radio station.
There's much more Flame Shark music to be found online, though. Four tracks from Midnight on Pearl Beach are currently available on the group's MySpace page. They are "The Salton Sea," "Kill Me With Your Sunshine," "Captain You've Lost Control!," and "A Fossil." A broader offering is available at flameshark.com, including a media introduction featuring audio, lyrics and photos. Jahnke has also produced two music videos, both featuring a mix of animation and live footage of the band in action.
The most recent big news from Flame Shark finds the group contributing three songs from their EP to an independent film about post-Katrina New Orleans, appropriate enough given Jahnke's Lousiana roots.
It's already a busy January for the band, who kicked off the New Year on stage at the King Club last Wednesday. Their next Madison show is set for Saturday, Jan. 13, when they will be performing with The Pints and Pistols at Dawn at the Crystal Corner. On the following Wednesday, Jan. 17, the quartet will hit the King Club (with their fiery brethren Fire Falls). After a couple of weeks off, they'll be returning to action at the Weary Traveler on Thursday, Feb. 1, followed three weeks later on Thursday, Feb 22 at the Club Tavern. Flame Shark will end their winter string of local gigs on Wednesday, Mar. 7 at the King Club
This is the latest featured entry from the Madison Music Project, an online database of Madison-area musicians. Please register or update your current profile on the project for consideration in these highlights.