Bruce Springsteen fandom knows no geographical bounds. In America, rustic patriarchs like Gaslight Anthem and Titus Andronicus wear their Springsteen influence on their sleeves. Now, Canadians are getting in on the act, too. Dubbed "The E Street Band on crack," Victoria, British Columbia's Slam Dunk makes overwhelmingly hooky stadium rock. They take so many of their cues from The Boss, in fact, that one could easily mistake huge, '70s-style bangers like "Bearclub" and "Bleacher Lovin'" for a Jon Landau production. But Slam Dunk's proper 2011 debut, The Shivers, requires a degree of patience. The juke pianos, noise-pop riffs, trenchant rhythms, and layers of reverb prove slightly exhausting over the course of 10 tracks. But the group is cleverer than they get credit for. On "The Beach," they gently satirize 1970s heartland rock with a sax solo that recalls the late Clarence Clemons; it's funny and thoroughly affectionate. Other songs, like the magnificent title track, sound like doo-wop as interpreted by a bunch of fuzz-rock charmers. Kudos to producer Colin Stewart. He usually works with heavier bands (Black Mountain, Pretty Girls Make Graves), but his work on The Shivers is frisky and flush with indelibly catchy motifs. The Boss would be proud.
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