The Portland-based indie folk group Shook Twins have released their song “What Have We Done” via Glide Magazine. The song appears on their 4th full length album, Some Good Lives, out February 15 via Dutch Records. Listen and share what have we done here and stream here.
“What Have We Done is a social commentary,” says Katelyn Shook. “We wrote this in 2016, during a writing session in our friend’s spare house when Bernie Sanders was still in the race and was shining a light on so many truths. He inspired us in so many ways and we felt compelled to write something sort of as a thank you to him. And when I sing the line “we can all do a little bit better” it reminds me over and over (and hopefully everyone listening) to BE better now that we KNOW better.”
“This song started with me looping a simple beat on the banjo head,” says Laurie Shook. “The first line fell out as “You got a lot of those feelings, bottled up in that JAR” cause I was sitting in my friend’s spare house staring at a Jar on the shelf. It’s funny how an entire song can come from just spacing out basically. The beat and melody had a sort of motivating quality to it. We didn’t intend for it to be a political song at first, but when we wrote the bridge, “working hard and broke and broken, working less and rich and ruling” it really lit a fire in front of our view of the corporate mentality, and how some CEOs can watch their employees work so hard full time and still struggle to pay their bills and insurance and do nothing but watch their bank accounts grow. The wealth in this country is so far unbalanced and feels so far from a solution sometimes. Singing “we can all do a little bit better” somehow helps. We are still Feelin the Bern!”
Everybody in your life will write his or her own chapter in your story. Take a step back, and you’ll see the influence of your loved ones, mentors, and friends in your decisions. Shook Twins refer to these folks in the title of their fourth album, Some Good Lives. Throughout fourteen tracks, the duo—identical twin sisters Katelyn Shook [vocals, guitar] and Laurie Shook [banjo, vocals]—pay homage to everyone from a late grandpa and godfather to Bernie Sanders.
“We realized there was a theme,” Katelyn reveals. “Even though our minds are mostly on the women of today and wanting the matriarchy to rise up, we have several men in our lives who have been such positive forces. We wanted to thank them and honor the good guys who showed us the beauty in this crazy world we live in. So, it’s an album for Some Good Lives that have crossed paths with ours—and to them, we are grateful.”
Laurie agrees, “It’s also an acknowledgment of our thankfulness of the good life that we get to live.”
However, the pair derived their own strength from these relationships. Over the course of three full-length releases and a handful of EPs since 2008, acclaim would come by way of everyone from USA Today and Baeble Music to Langhorne Slim, The Lumineers, and Mason Jennings. Beyond gigs with the likes of Ryan Adams and Ani DiFranco, they captivated crowds at High Sierra Music Festival, Lightning In A Bottle, Bumbershoot, Hulaween, Summer Camp Music Festival, and Northwest String Summit, to name a few.
During 2016, they planted the seeds for what would become Some Good Lives by thinking bigger. The girls intermittently recorded at Hallowed Halls in Portland, OR. Within this old library building, “which feels full of stories,” they tapped into palpable energy like never before, locking into a groove inside of the spacious, reverberant live room. Moreover, the full band—Barra Brown [drums], Sydney Nash [bass], and Niko Slice [guitar, mandolin]—expanded the sonic palette.
“It took us a long time to find the band that we wanted to record these songs with and for the songs to fully mature,” admits Laurie. “Once Barra, Sydney, and Niko joined us, we really started to explore what our music could be. These amazing players helped us realize that we could be more than just ‘folk pop’. We started adding other genres to the word like‘disco,’‘psychedelic,’‘funk,’ and ‘soul.’ We really honed in on a new sound.”