The Shills
Gig Seeker Pro

The Shills

Band Rock Pop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"The Shills "Push""

If you were expecting to hear your typical garage band slag from The Shills, guess again. This band comes fully dressed, armed to the teeth, and ready to rock concert venues, arenas and large halls with their enormous, well produced and arranged music and voices. Theatrical in nature, and often times bordering on the operatic, The Shills lead singer Bryan Murphy pushes the vocal envelope with an amazing three octave range while guitarist Eric Ryrie slashes his way through songs like a chainsaw through Marvel Mystery oil. In the meantime bassist Dave Sicilian(cool name... could he really be Italian?) pumps out a relentless low end energy in consort with the explosive time keeping of drummer James Zaner. Collectively, this fierce foursome plays music that's intensely passionate and highly emotional. Best tracks sure to garner radioplay includes the grandiose "Angry Dance," the snappy "Say What You Will," and the charismatic "Oh Lovely." Move over Franz Ferdinand, there's a new band in town and they're called The Shills! Good stuff. - Metronome Magazine

"Talent, skill usher in triumphant Shills debut"

Talent, skill usher in triumphant Shills debut
By Bill Earl

In the face of plummeting music sales, record execs are eager to push artists who marginally satisfy many ears, no matter how thin the results may be. Some of the most profitable entertainers are those who shade their music with different flavors (such as jazz, rock, hip-hop and house) in order to nab the largest audiences possible. Often, the artists remain jacks of all trades, rather than masters of their craft.
Luckily, no part of this trend affects up-and-coming Boston quartet The Shills. On their recently-released, self-titled debut full-length, the young Northeastern group rocks without shame, announcing its strength with a meticulously written album which, if there is any justice in the world, will offer the band plenty of exposure.

Opening track “Pigeonhole” charges with a guitar line and rhythm section which would not sound out of place on oft-stale alternative radio. Yet any formula is immediately dropped as singer/guitarist Bryan Murphy opens his mouth. The gifted vocalist, graced with a three octave range, drives the track with a showstopping falsetto on the active chorus. Often compared in tone to the late Jeff Buckley, the similarities are sonically accurate, but more representative of Murphy’s ability to steal the spotlight on nearly every song.

But focusing solely on Murphy’s pipes would be a disservice to the rest of the crack band. The whip-smart blend of guitarist Eric Ryrie, bassist Dave Sicilian and drummer James Zaner offers a surprisingly heavy backing section for Murphy’s rich and emotional voice. The gamble works: Whether they are shredding on multi-section tracks such as the swelling “Big Indifference” or soulful jammers such as the understated blues stomp of “But Beware,” the group stays nimble enough to match the intensity of the vocals.

High points are frequent. “Slackjaw America” emerges as Murphy’s most ruckus performance, trading subtlety in for a screamer which shuns America’s media obsession. Power ballad “Big Yellow Steamroller” packs an emotional wallop, featuring an ebbing rhythm section which experiments while retaining melody. Closer “It’s Not Your Thing” perfectly captures the carefree rock and roll spirit which the group is able to encapsulate so well.
Were a gripe to be had with The Shills, it might reference their sub-Shakespearean lyrics. Yet rock music often has little need for brilliant words, instead taking joy in the ability to launch a solid groove. At that, The Shills are more than capable. And though the most compelling aspect of the band is their stunning live act, “The Shills” will more than compensate until you can catch one of their hometown gigs. - The Maine Switch

"Blast From The Past"

Blast from the Past
The Shills
Self-Released 2006

Proving that debut EPs do not have to be sophomoric, The Shills first entered the Boston scene with “Push,” a six song collection which includes several of the group’s best efforts. “Oh Lovely” is, quite possibly, one of the prettiest songs ever written, with Murphy’s romantic vocals floating over a gentle tangle of guitars. “Say What You Will” examines the band at their most joyous, layering the saccharine on thick while still retaining the musical complexity which many of their peers fail to strive for. And although the band only formed recently before “Push,” it is clear that they were seasoned enough to put their all into tracks such as “Angry Dance,” propelling the song from rock-fueled ditty to arena-ready anthem. A great first effort. - The Maine Switch

"The Shills"

The Shills - The Shills
Recorded by James Zaner, Dave Sicilian and Kyle Hurlbut at Blue Jay Recording in Carlisle, MA
Mixed by Will Sandalls
Mastered by Nick Zampiello at New Alliance East

The Shills’ eponymous record is filled with the instrumental artistry one rarely sees. The band locks in with unison sections rarely seen outside of emo or metal, but manages to channel this intensity and focus into genius pop hooks and rock melodies.

From the opening salvo of “Pigeonhole,” The Shills throw down a gauntlet that Ted Leo would be wary to pick up. With soaring vocal harmonies and a constant barrage of melodies interlocking with catchy guitar lines, The Shills set up this record to be an unstoppable celebration of the unexpected song turn.

They don’t disappoint with “Save a Little Breath,” which cements their astounding skill for vocal hooks and guitar parts that sound like the best of Jimmy Eat World minus the whine. The song’s bridge is the first time we get the impression that The Shills might be two parts modern rock/pop and one part old school Rush. While the vocals soar to Geddy Lee levels over crunching guitars, the rhythm section brings everything together and, suddenly, you’re trapped in the front seat of a speeding car as the world races by.

“Big Indifference” goes one step further, highlighting impressive bass work and sparse fills from the rest of the band. Again, the vocal harmonies call (and distant horn section) build a wailing wall of harmony that rest on top of the pounding rhythm section with amazing ease. It’s light but powerful, easy yet commanding.
Instrumental or melodic criticisms aren’t easy to come by on this record, though sometimes the lyrics devolve into the heavy-handed (“Slackjaw America”‘s attempts to call out the television-watching populous in a raucous punk-rock style just sounds forced and silly). But even in these less successful songs, the well-written hooks more than make up for questionable lyrical choices. Interesting additions of horns and baritone sax make certain tracks pop out that might otherwise blur together.

The Shills are at their best on the straightforward rocking “Starting Gun” or the opening “Pigeonhole,” but they are hard to throw off their game in any circumstance. Fans of Ted Leo, Jimmy Eat World and yes, even Rush, should take note of a new commanding voice of melody and instrumental rock. Album closer “It’s Not Your Thing,” deftly balances a pop-rock choruse against a prog bridge, and a modern pop breakdown. With their debut full-length, The Shills truly put forth a wonderful record that’s worth repeated listens. And they make it all sound so easy. (Self-released)
-John Drake - Northeast Performer

"Shills Play Outside Frames of Reference"

The exclusionary indie aesthete has become something of an endangered species in recent years.

The sheer ubiquity of culture, both pop and otherwise, has leveled the genre playing field. The prominence of the iPod, too, has had a hand in that, ushering us into a Shuffle Era, where the eclectic mixing arena of styles has progressed from our hard drives to our entire musical outlook. As a result it's not uncommon for our listening patterns to flow, somewhat seamlessly, from pop rock acts like, say, Maroon 5, to the more adventurous, endeavors of Radiohead, the textures of post rock indie outfits like the Sea and Cake and on complex to the soul rock Stevie Wonder and operatic oddities of Queen. Sometimes, with a young act like Boston's the Shills, you can hear a little of each over the course of one album. Nevermind shuffling between bands, just let their third, self-recorded CD "Ganymede" play out.

"The four of us have different musicals backgrounds, but have found a common ground and been influenced by each other to create something new," explains guitarist Eric Ryrie. "We want to challenge ourselves, but we want people to be able to connect with what we're doing."

Whatever varied points of influence you may pull from the record, the initial, and probably lasting ones in songs like "Maybe I'll Stay Around" where vocalist Bryan Murphy's breathy falsetto carries the aching burden. There was a time not too far back where every other was that Jeff Buckley thing, but it seems fresh again now. "We are Jeff Buckley fans, but it's not a conscious influence," says Ryrie. "Bryan gets a lot of comparisons due to the range of his voice, but that's more of less where the comparison's end."

Another point of departure: there's very little, if any, talk of love here: it's a romantic record without romance.

"'Ganymede' is a concept album about a misanthrope who gets shipwrecked after leaving society to be alone," Ryrie says. "Without anyone else to focus his hate on, he is forced to turn inward and slowly drives himself toward insanity. We've never been fans of love songs."

That sort of thoughtful lyrical content might end up precluding any hypothetical Top 40 spot, but then again the Shills seem comfortable inhabiting the in between spaces anyways. - Metro Boston

"The Shills"

The Shills
By Martin Satell

Studies have shown that people tend to use their online personae to escape the self-loathing of their corporeal selves. Often times it simply gives people the boost in confidence necessary to be uncharacteristically mean to one another. But the “raison de spite“ that cyberspace honorifics afford Internet users is the root of both the name and mission of local rock outfit The Shills.

Before Bryan Murphy answered Eric Ryrie, Dave Sicilian, and James Zaner’s craigslist ad for a singer and thus completed the current lineup of The Shills, he was writing music on his own.

He posted a song he had written on an online file-sharing network, only to have it be insulted by another member of the site as “a shill.” Instead of getting upset, he used the disparagement as a means of empowerment. Although the cyber assailant meant to call his song ineffective and trite, Murphy understood that such slight could be viewed as a compliment meaning that his music appeared as something it was not.

“Basically, we shill complicated music,” says Murphy in the basement of the recently opened Revolution Rock Bar, where the band is slated to play in under an hour. He means that the band’s goal is to make complex music that is palatable to listeners but also complicated enough to remain challenging for the band members.

They do not want to alienate or overwhelm listeners with nerd-rock intricacies, but rather want to avoid boring the audience with three-chord progressions. The result may be a straightforward-sounding form of rock, but those listeners who attempt to find an example of their latent genius will find many.

The Shills’ desire to keep challenging themselves not only maintains their adept musicianship, but also affects their live performance. When the band has overplayed a song and its members begin to tire of it, they often notice that the apparent boredom with their material detracts from the usual spontaneity of their live performance.

As guitarist Ryrie puts it, “When a song gets stale we have to change it or else it’ll take away from our live performance, which is what really matters.” For a band like The Shills that holds its live act in the highest regard, apathy towards their own music would jeopardize the live act. This would be unacceptable.

The art of the performance is what The Shills pride themselves on most. “We need a genuine performance — one where we sound tight,” explains Ryrie between swigs of Sam Adams. “And we can’t sound like we’re trying to be something else.” The quartet cannot fake the excitement and energy that they consistently exhibit in every show. Whether it is through transposition of melody or the incorporation of hidden harmonies, The Shills value the organic.

As the cover of The Shills’ 2006 self-released EP, entitled Push (which depicts a baby being born, attached to his mother not by an umbilical cord, but rather by a pair of flesh-colored headphones), would suggest, the band is not concerned about what listeners will think. No, they craft their energetic rock for no one but themselves.

On stage, the band is completely focused on the music and on each other, again at the expense of the wishes of the audience. When Ryrie and Murphy trade glances as they shred their guitars or when Zaner bounces behind his drum set without the slightest reserve, The Shills aren’t catering to the audience’s expectations; they are playing for themselves.

Although The Shills have been together for over two and a half years, they only released Push this September. The fact that the band had such a long dry spell of new material may appear at first as the result of sloth. But rather, it is most likely that of perfectionism. For a band that is so self-motivated and self-aware as The Shills, it must be an incredibly stringent process to craft new songs.

But as Murphy suggests, “If we sound the same way live as we do on the record, then we’re wasting our time.” Consequently, the true art of The Shills lies not in their album. The band constantly changes the form of each song in concert, never failing to impress their fans with versatility. Their songs are malleable, but their resolve to remain a uniquely entertaining live act is certainly not. - Northeast Performer

"The Shills Update"

They've reigned as Boston's scrappiest pop band for much of recent
memory — the band that could go from a hoppity We Are Scientists
attack, to a Pixies noise swarm, to a Detroit rock city anthem, to
just dropping the bottom out into some flighty, nearly Ram-era
McCartney shenanigans — and this month brings us what could be the
SHILLS' shining moment. Ganymede is a 40-minute concept disc (complete
with radio play-style dramatic segues) about a shipwrecked misanthrope
who slowly goes crazy without anyone around to hate on. We're
expecting a kind of Home Alone-meets-Apocalypse Now vibe. The Shills
have been secretly working on it for a year and a half, since even
before their last record came out. They're putting out the disc in
triumphant self-released fashion at Middle East Upstairs on January 30
with Kid:Nap:Kin, Supervolcano, and Justin Shorey. - The Phoenix

"The Shills, "Push""

Displaying an interesting ability to mesh jilted, angular indie pop with a more streamlined pop rock sound, The Shills seem caught somewhere between the spacey, art rock aesthetics of Built to Spill and more arrow-straight rock ’n’ roll influences. And that’s not a bad thing. With Push, the band serves up six diverse and catchy songs that make for a quick but thorough listen. Opening track “Angry Dave” has a distinct indie rock lean to it, while “Oh Lovely” takes things down to their bare acoustic elements. It’s somewhat of a balancing act, but it works on the whole.
(Ryan Bray) - THe Noise-Boston

"The Shills Shell Out A Dynamic Debut Album"

The Shills Shell Out A Dynamic Debut Album
Dec 30 '07

The intensity of a live show on a studio produced album.

Limited recognition in terms of geography.

The Bottom Line
This album puts all cards on the table and certainly The Shills will cash in with success if they keep making music as good as that on this album.

Full Review
Though The Shills have released some other smaller works, their first full length album has now debuted and music fans can rest assured that The Shills are a band that we will all likely be hearing a lot more of in the near future. With a smashing debut full length album that is both well produced and fun to listen to, The Shills have worked hard to perfect a sound that they can proudly call their own and will be assured future success if they maintain the same gusto that they put into their self-titled debut The Shills.

The Shills have made a name for themselves in the Greater Boston area as most of their live performances tend to be in and around Boston proper. Smaller venues often times are great locations to find decent bands that put on a great live show but sometimes making the transition from the stage to the recording studio to produce an album is where lesser bands might simply not be cut out to make it.

Fortunately for The Shills the high intensity and love for not just music in general but more importantly their music is clearly evidenced on this album. The music seems to induce the listener into an almost live performance feel because the brilliance of the sound of The Shills is not lost in the recording studio.

The Shills are comprised of Bryan Murphy (vocals, guitar), Eric Ryrie (guitar), Dave Sicilian (bass) and James Zaner (drums).

Thankfully for the listener, Save a Little Breath does not spare anything in terms of providing the listener with everything that they need in a good track. The guitar sounds on the track are well positioned around the vocals and the percussive beats hold together the track nicely. There is a sort of fusion sound present on this track that at times feels almost punk while at other times holding a more pop-rock sound. There are significant variations on the track that highlights the music and vocal ranges of The Shills quite appropriately.

Starting Gun has a very Foo Fighter-esque sound to it and the band has crafted a song that could be not only enjoyable live but also a near perfect fit to a song that would score as being a radio hit. There is the right mix on this track of high powered instrumental sounds that do not take away from the true treat on this track: the well held together vocal part of the track. The vocals on this track especially highlights the musical capabilities of Murphy and shows that with the brilliant musical performance the rest of The Shills brings to the mix is what makes this band's sound stand apart from so many other bands. This track is perhaps the best one to listen to if you could only listen to one track on the entire album and determine whether or not The Shills will make it. The answer after listening to this track even just once is resoundingly in the affirmative.

All Ears brings perhaps the most intense and harder musical sound to this album that is classified as being perhaps a pop-rock album. There is a remarkable and noticeable difference musically on this track than perhaps the rest of the album yet The Shills do not lose anything when they try to mix it up on this track. Though the drums become a little bit harder and the guitars and bass sound a little bit stronger on this track, the band has ensured that they do not compromise the talent that they have shown on the rest of the album. Though it is a break from the sound of the rest of the album, the break is a refreshing demonstration of the far reaching capabilities of the band. The Shills deserve credit for showing enough musical gusto in being willing to mix things up a bit and even more credit for doing it well.

Track listing:

1. Pigeonhole
2. Save a Little Breath
3. Big Indifference
4. Slackjaw America
5. Starting Gun
6. Herding Sheep
7. But Beware
8. All Ears
9. Big Yellow Steamroller
10. It's Not Your Thing

Though The Shills certainly are not a household name amongst the entire nation and their faces likely will not be on any upcoming episodes of TRL on MTV, the band certainly is well positioned for continued and expanded success. With a full length debut album that is an amazing glimpse into not just the music of The Shills but also the work ethic of a band willing to risk it all with a debut album it can only be assumed that this is not the last we will hear of The Shills.

The Shills is an artfully constructed album from start to finish and the music of the band is well worth checking out. With so many smaller bands simply willing to do the status quo, you can rest assured that is simply not good enough for this band. The Shills have released this album putting all cards on the table and certainly will cash in with success if they keep making music as good as that on this album.

The Shills was produced by The Shills and was recorded at Blue Jay Recording in Carlisle, Massachusetts.

For more information about The Shills, check out their website at


Great Music to Play While: Driving

"The Shills CD Release Party / Your Vegas / Owen McCarthey / This Car Up"

With a large amount of rail thin hipsters dressed like scarecrows in the wind and a packed house, The Shills came on to an enthusiastic and interested crowd. Vocalist/guitarist Bryan Murphy took control of the audience. His booming vocals drove the four-piece rock outfit and rode very uniform flow throughout the entire set. The Shills played most songs off of their self-titled 2007 release The Shills and the songs translated nicely into dynamic, danceable rock songs. Their live energy is a great asset and compliments some of the choppy rhythms and Dave Sicilian’s funky — almost warped — bass lines. While the set felt stagnant at times, due to Murphy’s repetitive vocal affect, there was an undeniable energy on stage, and it’s difficult to argue with The Shills’ formula for success.

- Review and photos by Michael Aceto - Northeast Performer


"Push" 6-Song EP
"The Shills" Debut Full Length
"Ganymede" 2nd full length release



Bulldozers & butterflies. The Shills walk a fine line between delicate beauty and jolting, body shaking rock. Formed in early 2004, they have been cultivating a sound built from exacting musicianship & creative flexibility.
The Shills have recently released their second full length record titled "Ganymede." "Ganymede" is a concept record about a misanthrope who gets shipwrecked after leaving society to be alone. Without anyone else to focus his hate on he is forced to turn inward & slowly drives himself toward insanity. Experimental in nature, the record finds The Shills exploring new sounds while holding the course set by their previous 2 releases.
The Shills draw on a wide range of influences such as The Beatles, Soundgarden, Radiohead, Pearl Jam, Jeff Buckley, Queen, Queens of the Stone Age, Pedro The Lion and many more. With a nod to the past The Shills are making accessible yet challenging new sounds. As a live act The Shills have built a solid following throughout the Boston and New York areas. Their passion and precision on stage will draw you in leave a lasting impression.