The Blurries
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The Blurries

Dallas, Texas, United States | SELF

Dallas, Texas, United States | SELF
Band Rock Alternative


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Austin Town Hall: Top 15 Texas Albums of 2011"

14. The Blurries – Paper Cuts

Dallas often gets a lot of slack for the commercial/plastic appeal of the city, but that doesn’t apply to this excellent album by the Blurries. There’s angular chops and steady drumming that serve as the backdrop for a record designed to provide you with effortless cool and energetic bursts. If you can’t sing along to this album, then I’m sorry to hear about your vocal chords; they must be broken. - Austin Town Hall

"The Big Takeover Interview: Joey Shanks of The Blurries"

Interview: Joey Shanks of The Blurries
by Elizabeth Klisiewicz

I recently was turned on to some great Texas power pop from a review I read in Issue 69. Listening to the sharpened jangle pop of The Blurries was a revelation. It made me feel like a kid again as I remembered some early power pop that blew my lid off. “Little Marie” may be one of the best power pop tunes I’ve heard in decades. The band’s guitarist, Joey Shanks, kindly agreed to an interview, and it is my pleasure to present this Q&A with him.

EK: Let’s talk a bit about what came before, as in Limes and Slider Pines, and how you came to form The Blurries. How many years did you do the Tennessee-Texas commute?

JOEY SHANKS: I’ve been in Texas for awhile. The Limes was my first real band I formed with a good friend when I first moved to Dallas. We were a watered down alt/rock band. We had a revolving door of drummers. I think we had more drummers than good songs. Like a lot of young bands, we wanted to be a big deal and wasted a lot of time second guessing each other on how to do that. After a failed western tour, I quit and moved back to Memphis.

When I couldn’t get anything going there, I returned to Texas and started Slider Pines with Bill and Andy. We never knew what we wanted to sound like. As a result, we were undercooked. Rather than tear the band apart, the three of us started forming our idea for the Blurries at rehearsals and after shows where we were confronted with how boring we were.

When you watch people walk out of your shows over and over again, you either quit or change. Everything we like about the Blurries is born from what we were doing wrong as Slider Pines. Even now, we use that band name (which is god-awful) as a reverse rally cry for doing things better, or just differently.

EK: Can you tell me a bit about your friends in Old Snack?

JOEY SHANKS: We’ve been fans of Aaron White, the Old Snack songwriter/frontman, for awhile. He had a band a few years ago called Current Leaves along with Grady Don Sandlin (who is the drumming half of the great art/blues duo RTB2) that we all liked. We’ve been following what Aaron does ever since.

Old Snack is a rowdy, garage pop three piece. It’s a perfect format for Aaron’s smart pop songwriting. Don’t let his sense of humor fool you. He writes really great stuff and gets a lot done in a very short amount of time. If it were easy doing what he does, everybody would do it.

EK: Do you all have day jobs and do this in your off hours, or are you pursuing music full time? You all are fantastic musicians, and I could totally see you going for the musical brass ring.

JOEY SHANKS: Ha! You’re too nice. Thanks.

This band is something we do in our off hours, but we certainly daydream. None of us is waiting for lightning to strike, but we wouldn’t work so hard on the music and live show if we didn’t hope for more. My dreams are simpler now- getting a song placed in a commercial seems like the new brass ring to me. Having a bigger artist cover one of our songs and bring it to a larger audience would also be a way to jumpstart our career, in my opinion.

EK: Please describe the creative songwriting process.

JOEY SHANKS: I write the songs and bring them to Andy and Bill. We get the bed of drums, bass, and 12-string going, and then Andy and I flesh out the other parts. Since we haven’t had our current lineup while building songs, Matt and Kevin haven’t been a part of this yet. It’ll be interesting to see how we change with them involved.

EK: I see you’re playing the *Denton Festival *in March with a number of big names. Is this your first festival? It could be great exposure for you.

JOEY SHANKS: Yes, it’s our first festival. It should be fun to play, but, really, I’m looking forward to hearing all the bands. It’s a really solid lineup.

EK: Have any of you played SXSW, or have any desire to play there?

JOEY SHANKS: I think most of us have been down there in one way or another, but we’ve never played as the Blurries at SXSW. We didn’t submit an application this year, but I’m sure we will next year. We’ll be in Austin shortly after SXSW, though, playing with another great Texas three piece, our friends, Leatherbag.

EK: How about gigs outside of TX?

JOEY SHANKS: None yet. Our main goal for the rest of the year is to get out of town as much as possible to support the album.

EK: Do you wield the 12 string, or is it Matt? You incorporate it beautifully into the mix, and I can hear it on “Pulling Teeth”, which evokes one of my favorite 80’s bands, The Rain Parade.

JOEY SHANKS: I play the 12-string. Every song on the record has a 12 on it, although I’m not sure our songs are as jangly as we seem on paper. I might have too much residual alt/rock flowing through my veins.

Matt joined as we were finishing the album. He played on “For The Night” and did the solo for “Pulling Teeth”, but most of the lead work on the album is Andy with me chipping in here and there.

“Emergency Third Rail Power Trip” is a great record. I can hear “You Are My Friend” in Andy’s wirey lead line on “Pulling Teeth”. It really compliments my 12-string part, and helps the song get close to that Rain Parade vibe.

EK: “Wintertime Blues” is first order chamber pop mashed with medieval folk. It’s kind of like what The Beach Boys would have sounded like if Fairport Convention or Midlake backed them up. It’s strikingly different than your fast moving pop tunes. Can we expect more in this vein? You do it so well.

JOEY SHANKS: “Wintertime Blues” and “Paper Cuts” were the last songs we tracked. Those were written specifically to help the flow of the album- to break up all the fast paced numbers. Both songs are very vocal heavy, which is where we want to go with our next batch of songs. I’d like more vocals in the future snappy pop stuff too. It’s time consuming to write that way, and a real pain to execute live, but I love doing it.

EK: “Jumping Up and Down on the Ice” has those cool, treated vocals. How do you achieve that effect?

JOEY SHANKS: That is the sound of a Leslie 330 cabinet. Casey DiIorio, our producer, made that happen. We tracked it effected, rather than treat it after the fact.

Singing with an odd signal chain can be very forgiving for a singer- the effect does the work for you. Once Casey got the sound, it didn’t take long to sing, as opposed to most of the other songs, where I would sing for days.

EK: Any favorite covers you like to trot out? Because I could totally hear you cranking out “Shake Some Action” , “Teenarama” or any of the Paisley Underground material and making it your own.

JOEY SHANKS: We play a few covers now. Andy built a version of The Byrds’s “So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star” that is insanely fast. I think it clocks in at under 2 minutes. We tinker with some Bowie, Big Star, and even a Bill Withers tune, too.

Old Snack covers The Flamin’ Groovies’ “Please Please Girl” really well, so we stay away from that out of respect. I’d love to cover quite a bit of material from the Paisley Underground era, or really anything from any of the Nuggets box-sets. For the record, every 4th of July, we do a mean cover of Neil Diamond’s “America”.

EK: I hear there’s at least one Let’s Active fan in the band; I used to be in their fan club. Mitch is still active as a producer; would you ever consider working with him? I think you’d be a good match.

JOEY SHANKS: I’m the Mitch Easter fan in the group. I didn’t know he had a fan club. He definitely deserves one! I go back and listen to “Cypress” frequently. I think that album has aged really well.

As for working with Mitch Easter? Are you kidding? Where do we sign up? I would gladly do his laundry for a year if he would even consider it. As great as a guitarist and songwriter as he is, he’s just as brilliant producing. Pavement’s “Brighten The Corners” is a great sounding record. He’s definitely a hero of mine.

EK: “Paper Cuts” is obviously a labor of love, made for the sheer joy of it and not caring if it catches fire (though it really should). Was that the intent?

JOEY SHANKS: We intended for everyone to love it! It’s hard for me to imagine it catching fire with the state of popular music today. Hopefully, people will find us and follow what we do in the future. We like it, so that’s the way we measure success. Choosing to measure it any other way is pretty depressing. -

"2012 Dallas Observer Music Awards - Best Group Act & Best Video (nom.)"

The Blurries have been nominated for 2012 Dallas Observer Music Awards in two categories: "Best Group Act" and "Best Video". - Dallas Observer

"D Magazine's "Best Music Act" of 2012"

Unlike many rock acts, The Blurries do not get your attention by force. They ask almost politely, though their subtlety does not dilute their memorable pop. The group’s nice-guy attitude and brilliantly ringing guitars have earned it a diverse following, the respect of peers, and the distinction of being the most deservingly well-liked band in Dallas. - D Magazine

"The Blurries: Paper Cuts"

Jangle Rock Lives!

Sometimes it all just kind of comes together. Jangly guitar pop-rock is certainly something we’ve all heard plenty of, but the Blurries manage to make it interesting again, three minutes at a time. “Pretty Knife” is a terrific tune built around thin-but-expressive vocals and – wait for it – jangly guitars, while “Your Love” benefits from plenty of straightforward verve. The four-piece never strays far from the guitar-bass-keys-drums template, but as someone famous once said, it’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you do with it. The Blurries excel in the melody and harmony departments, and their multi-section songs obscure (mostly) their fairly pedestrian musicianship. There are occasional duds, like the unmemorable “For the Night” and “Clear,” but a greater number of compelling, melodic rockers like “Wintertime Blues” and “Paper Cuts” are waiting just around the corner. Guess what, kids? Rock and roll is here to stay, at least for another three minutes. Rating: 7/10

-- David Maine - PopMatters

"Listen up! 5 cool CDs from hot North Texas acts"

From its opening notes, Paper Cuts kicks the gate open and doesn't let up for a dozen tracks, none of which clocks in at more than four minutes. That these songs are irresistible hunks of power-pop is not particularly surprising -- before taking on the Blurries moniker, this trio (Andy Lester, Bill Spellman and Joey Shanks) made music as Slider Pines, another underappreciated Dallas institution. But given the sparkling presentation here (courtesy of Valve Studios' Casey Dilorio), the Blurries won't be a mystery for much longer. Throw this sucker into the car and take advantage of the few gorgeous fall days we have left in North Texas.

-- Preston Jones -

"Review of "Paper Cuts""

Led by Memphis-born/Dallas-based Joey Shanks (formerly of The Limes), The Blurries make no bones about from what period they take inspiration. Paper Cuts sounds like a long-lost LP from the mid-‘80s, with one foot in Athens and the other in Liverpool. From the rocking janglers “Clear,” “Pretty Knife,” and the title track to the acoustic stomp of “Wintertime Blues” and the acid swirl of “Jumping Up and Down On the Ice,” the Blurries blend superb songs and sparkling sound into a relentless rush of guitar pop perfection. Don’t miss the opener “Little Marie,” possibly the best janglepop anthem in decades.

-- Michael Toland - The Big Takeover #69

"Take Five: Local Songs for Your Week"

1) The Blurries, “Wintertime Blues” – Various shades of rock ’n’ roll blend together somewhat seamlessly on the Dallas band’s new album, Paper Cuts. “Little Marie” gives the guys a kickoff song for a future arena gig, “Your Love” finds them burning one for Tom Petty, and “Clear” pays homage – intentionally or otherwise – to salad-daze R.E.M. (pause to empty 40-ounce). The thing that keeps popping up on this record, though, is the band’s jones for psych-‘60s harmonies. They come closest to Byrds territory with the intricate head-spinner “Wintertime Blues.” Despite its sonic association, the song’s true inspiration roots back to the ’50s, lead singer/guitarist Joey Shanks tells me in an e-mail. “We were trying to do an icy version of Eddie Cochran’s ‘Summertime Blues,’ so we approximated the rhythm with foot-stomps and hand-claps and then ran those through an echoplex,” Shanks writes. “We fleshed out the structure around my 12-string line and built the song piece by piece, section by section.” Since it’s by admission a studio creation, it’ll be interesting to see what shape the song takes in a live setting. For now, though, it’s a terrific track to accompany the chill in the air. We all know what’s coming.

-- Hunter Hauk -

"Review of "Paper Cuts""

Over the course of the past few years, The Blurries may have been the best-kept secret in town. Proficient in driving, catchy power-pop anthems — and among the tightest performers around, if not the flat-out tops in that category — the band has existed mostly under the radar. For a few reasons: Its members aren't particularly young, their gigs aren't particularly frequent and, well, there's the whole name thing.

For a while there, guitarist and lead vocalist Joey Shanks, bassist Andy Lester and drummer Bill Spellman went by the Slider Pines moniker — a name that, upon first glance, unfairly found the band pegged as some sort of alt-country band. Now, on the band's second full-length and first as The Blurries — now featuring an updated live lineup that also includes Young & Brave's Matt Shasteen on guitar and The Crash That Took Me's Kevin Howard on keys — that all seems a thing of the distant past. The only spillover evident on this 12-track release from the band's prior incarnation is the album's closer, "Pulling Teeth," which was also found on the band's 2008 EP. It's a fine inclusion with its cascading guitars, but it's among the slower cuts on this fast-paced collection.

For the most part, the band performs Paper Cuts at full throttle, capturing the nervous energy of The Replacements and bottling it in a Byrds aesthetic. The album doesn't get much better than it does on opening cut "Little Marie," with its start-stop chorus and showcasing of Shank's impressive upper-register timbre. But it doesn't get much worse, either, resulting in a cohesive album that compels for its entire 35-minute run time.

Took 'em a while, but The Blurries seem to have finally figured it all out.

-- Pete Freedman - The Dallas Observer

"Dallas Band The Blurries Reveal Much Through a Single Cover"

I had no idea that all I needed in my life was to hear a post punk perversion of “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone,” until about 11 o’clock last night. (I almost typed that as, “Ain’t No Sunshine ‘Til She’s Gone.” What is wrong with me?)

It came courtesy of Dallas band The Blurries, who naturally focused mostly on their freshly pressed album, entitled Paper Cuts. This was in front of a typically polite and receptive audience at Dan’s Silver Leaf. The group evolved out of The Slider Pines, and yet seem to be considerably more sophisticated than that act, though they share multiple members.

(Warning: A direct comparison is about to be made between multiple bands.) The group gives little sonic clues hinting at late-period Byrds, a comparison that was first shared with me by local musician Aaron White. White suggested the show, and though he also performed, his selling point was The Blurries and their new record. White plays in the excellent Old Snack, a band name that is hilariously offensive to some, and we’ll have more on their upcoming album soon.

Full disclosure: I was let into this show for free. A rarity for me, and the only time being on the guest list at Dan’s has ever been pulled off successfully. I am still looking for a catchy name for my “Universal Database for all Guest-lists at Every Club on Earth” iPhone App. I am also looking into having it made in the first place.

The group’s sound gives some obvious clues that also stem from the aforementioned Byrds: A musical admission implying sonic solidarity with that group’s evolutionary lineage. Or specifically the nervous jangle of early 80's acts like The Feelies and The DB’s. So therefore, a million other bands that are more inclined to concentrate on the intricacies of all six (or twelve!) strings, as opposed to thrashing them all-at-once come showtime.

But back to the cover of the Bill Withers’ classic: As solidly constructed as Paper Cuts is from start-to-finish, as with all bands there is an unadorned truth that lies in the live show alone. The Blurries approach to the song sums up everything about them, even where their record cannot, and that’s a compliment. There’s a boldness that lies in their collective seduction by subtlety. It’s often easier to just rage through a standard, the same way in which so many awful bands have to older, more well-known material from grander artists. But they play it low-key mostly throughout. Not as sleepy and sad as Withers, but not dumbing it down for the rock audience either.

So the climax of “Ain’t No Sunshine,” of course, comes lyrically, in the seemingly absurd yet soulful repetition of “I know/I know/I know.” Withers’ iconic vocal on the original seems a natural extension of the strategic repetitiveness of a Grant Green jazz guitar solo, long before repeating yourself became the norm by way of pop music. The Blurries take this sacred section and blast off with it, the backing music comes crashing in, and all of a sudden they tear the set apart in a way that they seemed to promised they never would upon commencing. And for once in life, that broken promise is a welcome one.

-- Christopher Mosely -

"STUCK Interview: The Blurries"

In a world of indie rock culture dominated by hipper-than-thou outlets more concerned with being tastemakers rather than music lovers, a record like the Blurries’ Paper Cuts seemingly modestly presented and performed – is easy to overlook. But make no mistake: the Dallas-based quintet’s debut is a serious contender for album of the year. Boasting a set of impossibly memorable tunes so beautifully written and enthusiastically performed that they should make their peers glow green with envy, Paper Cuts sets a new standard for indie guitar rock. Bandleader Joey Shanks writes songs so good, to paraphrase XTC’s Andy Partridge, they nearly hurt to listen to.

Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Shanks toggled back and forth between his hometown and Dallas for years, logging time in the Limes and Slider Pines before forming the Blurries. “I had a really good friend who played in the Limes and yanked me out and said, ‘Quit being Mr. 4-Track and play in a band.’ I played with him for a while, then moved back to Memphis after I got married and tried to get something going there.

“But I always missed the people I knew in Dallas that played. When I moved back, I hooked up with Andy [Lester, bass] and we found Bill Spellman [drums] and we were a three-piece for a long time. Then we all started to want something specific, so we started adding pieces [guitarist Matt Shasteen and keyboardist Kevin Howard].”

That specific something means a distinctive resonance derived from the golden age of underground guitar rock, when pop jangled and postpunk was painted in psychedelic hues. “We wanted to sound like grandchildren of Nuggets,” elaborates Shanks, alluding to Rhino’s seminal psych rock series. “And that means paisley underground stuff, early Athens – Minneapolis too, for that matter. All that stuff is into Brit pop and Memphis stuff, Big Star.” A timeless sound, in other words. “It’s still good. That Rain Parade album [Emergency Third Rail Power Trip] is still good, just cover to cover. I think Let’s Active records sound great. Cypress is amazing.”

Great tracks like “Pretty Knife,” “Little Marie” (a prime candidate for song of the year) and the title track make no bones about the 80s guitar pop influence. But the Blurries are no retro act – the paisley underground is just the stock of their rock & roll soup, not the sole ingredient. “I really like Holland-Dozier-Holland, the Motown guys,” Shanks explains further. “I really like how they set up a song, their form. We all love Bowie, we love Low. We all locked specifically into that Rain Parade record – it was something we just listened to over and over.”

It’s not all just old classics that inspire Blurrieness, either. “One band we could always agree on was the New Pornographers,” Shanks says. “We like AC Newman, Neko Case. We admire the thought they put into their records.”

It’s no coincidence that Shanks cites albums in which a great deal of careful effort was put – a high degree of craft permeates Paper Cuts as well. Craft is something the band strives for, a quality to which not all of their indie rock peers pay much mind. “[The songs] certainly stick around longer than you think they do,” notes Shanks, “so you best take some care in what you’re doing. We spent a year making the record and we would get parts and rework [them]. The producer [Casey DiIorio] was really involved, telling us that part is good, that part is not. In that way, we made an old record.”

The LP is driven by Shanks’ electric 12-string guitar, an axe most often used these days as an accent or an occasional twist on an artist’s norm. Here it is the norm – the band’s sonic signature. “I committed to the 12-string about four years ago,” explains Shanks. “I had tinkered with them in the past, but never fully committed – playing one exclusively is a real commitment. Since then, it's all I play. I write with one, gig – everything's done on a 12-string. While I'm no virtuoso, I think the 12-string rhythm is a big part of the band. As far as I'm concerned, it's an element that won't change, album to album.”

Another reason why Paper Cuts works so wonderfully well is that the songs are so carefully chosen and sequenced. “There were lots of songs that didn’t make it and some songs that just didn’t work,” Shanks says. “We set out to make a different record, probably. We wanted to hint at jangle, but we wanted it to be a little creepier and we didn’t nail that. We like the record, but we wanted a record that didn’t get any happier than “Little Marie,” and because we didn’t, we’ll try next time.”

Though the thought of outtakes is tantalizing, don’t expect to hear those tunes anytime soon. “Nah, those songs are dead,” declares Shanks. “’Wintertime Blues’ and ‘Paper Cuts’ were the last tunes we put on. We had others that we had to trash.”

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Paper Cuts is the product of a band who understands that making timeless, lasting music means actual work. “We do it too much, if anything,” says Shanks. “Getting in a room and bashing things out and letting things happen – there is a truth in that. We dream of being that capable, to screw things in as tight as possible.”

The Blurries work toward their creative goals in the independent realm, as do so many of the better artists in these ever-changing pop culture times. “I’m not sure what major labels do anymore, other than connect you to old media,” Shanks muses. “If something came along, we would be interested, but I just don’t think we could make anybody money. We were too busy working on the record to think about how it was gonna be released. I don’t know how to make money.”

Not that fame and fortune are the driving force behind Shanks’ music anyway. “It’s cheaper than a shrink!” he laughs. “Chase your heroes and all that stuff. I had older siblings, so at a young age I was a music lover. Start chasing those records!” But not mimicking them, however. “Yeah, we can’t cover songs,” Shanks notes. “We’d be the world’s worst cover band.”

-- Michael Toland - A Part of STUCK (

"Album Review: Paper Cuts by The Blurries"

California dream pop has made its way to Dallas with the release of The Blurries' new LP, Paper Cuts.

It has been more than 40 years since The Mamas and The Papas and The Beach Boys have been major players in the music game, but their influence is heavy on The Blurries' latest record, which will be released September 13. The Blurries is an incarnation of local band Slider Pines, as three of the five musicians from Slider Pines made the transition to the new band. More than a name change, however, The Blurries has a sound separate from Slider Pines.

It is clear on each song from the 12-track album that The Blurries’ sound is full of that 1960s west coast vibe, but the band has added a modern indie twist. The band's harmonies are reminiscent of a time when musicians were “California Dreamin’,” but the band manages to take the influence of those that came before them and makes the sound all their own.

They acknowledge that their music can be traced back to the Los Angeles Paisley Underground scene – which also influenced bands for a time in the mid-'80s like early days of The Bangles – but The Blurries also admit that they take inspiration from the jangle-rock genre and the late '70s Athens, Georgia, music scene, which R.E.M. in their early days drew deep inspiration from.

Overall, the album has a dreamy, laid back beach feel. Songs tend to meld into one another as you go deeper into the record. While listening, it is easy to lose sense of time and track – perhaps just what the band hopes you'll do.

It’s best to immerse yourself in Paper Cuts when you are looking to put yourself in a mellow mood. You know, calm your senses after a hard day of work or just enjoy the album as you cruise the highway.

“Wintertime Blues” comes recommended if you're searching for song that is relaxing and pleasing to the ears. The song has those Beach Boys harmonies with just the right dash of The Mamas and the Papas that can mellow you out almost instantly. For a little heavier tune, “Jumping Up and Down On The Ice” has driving drumbeats, buzzing guitars, and distorted underwater vocals that give the track an alternative feel.

The Blurries' name is fitting: The band blurs the genres that made the '60s a powerful and prolific time in music. Although it lacks the psychedelia that the latter part of the era's sound is synonymous for, it carries a subdued mood that helped make the decade's music widely recognized for its bohemian spirit.

-- Jessica Harp - Pegasus News


"Paper Cuts" - 11 song LP (September 2011)



The Blurries' music is an ultra modern take on New Jersey's Hoboken sound, California's Paisley Underground, and mid-80s Athens New South. The band is a self-proclaimed Janglecore outfit. They're all simple clothes and complex melodies with some drums that sound like they're played with hammers and angled guitars that blur like all things do that are moved with precision/imprecision. - Randy Reynolds