“shake & tremble” – django django (2015)


Summer is on its way. In Chicago, that means hot sun, sweat, and swimming. While Lake Michigan may not come to mind for many when it comes to beach bummin’, but I love it just the same. It’s what I have and that’s enough. I love the vibrancy of summer as the light shines on my skin. Incredibly transformative, my senses are heightened. When your winters are long, it is smart to enjoy any opportunity available to play outside in the summer.

Along with summer weather comes summer music. Mood music is incredibly important for me and varies from season to season. During these sweltering times, I want indie pop and surf music. I typically cannot find a way to enjoy both simultaneously. I only have either one or the other. Won’t some hip, young band come satisfy my thirst for surf guitars and harmonic choruses?

As luck would have it, the latest from Django Django entitled “Shake & Tremble” does the trick. Busting through with an oscillating guitar intro a la T. Rex, the band unleashes their sleigh bells and jangly guitars in a sonic homage to surf music of the past. The backing track has all the appeal of surf rock icons of yesteryear while staying fresh. The train rhythms and pounding percussion are carefully driven but chill as well. It presents a careful balance of the relaxation that comes with the dog days of summer but pulsates with youthful energy.

The group harmonizes throughout the song similarly to early Beach Boys while managing to keep a contemporary indie pop flavor. The lines are quick and undeniably poppy, but are catchy. I also love the storytelling and the juxtaposition of the lyrics against the backing track. While vague and misleading, the lyrics convey a sense of darkness and fear. Something is happening here, but what? Smoke. Hidden eyes. Pitch black darkness. All the ingredients of a spooky nightmare are there. You shake and tremble as the environment closes in on you. The setting presents some humor by relying on unclear intentions against a cool, crisp surf backdrop. It adds a sinister element to the music that is very tongue-in-cheek. Something is about to crash this surf party.

I cannot wait for summer. Beach bummin’ and fro-yo! Chicago carries an entirely different energy when the heat is on. It becomes more lively and energized. You fall in love with the city again when you go out walking along the lake, and then duck in some random store or restaurant to get a break from the heat; a great way to discover something new. Get out there and live.