Coming February 24th Algiers returns with Shook, their first new music since 2020’s There Is No Year, called “a heady concoction of post-punk, ‘60s soul and political insight.” (NME ****) Shook features contributions from Rage Against The Machine’s Zack De La Rocha, Boy Harsher’s Jae Matthews, Big Rube, billy woods, Backxwash, and many more. September’s standalone release of Shook single “Bite Back” was greeted by The FADER with a glowing “Song You Need” review: “A sober state of the union rallying cry for the revolution.”
“The world got shook”
So Algiers formed a crew. The band—who have built one of the most exciting catalogs and cult followings of recent years, with 2020’s There Is No Year described as “electrifying and unpredictable” (The Observer) and “precise, thoughtful and powerful” (NME) —gathered a posse of like-minded artists to create their fourth album, SHOOK, out February 24th on Matador. Stacked with guests spanning icons through to future stars, SHOOK is a lightning rod for an elusive yet universal energy and feeling. A plurality of voices; a spiritual and geographical homecoming; a strategy of communion in a burning world; the story of an end of a relationship; an Atlanta front porch summer party. Ultimately, it’s a 17-track set of the most mind-expanding and thrilling music that you are likely to hear anytime soon.
Algiers have always been unflinching, but SHOOK is at the same time notably joyous and celebratory. It was born when Fisher and Mahan found themselves back in their native Atlanta for several months, reeling from growing pressures and burnout as touring musicians. This triggered an intense period of beatmaking, reconnecting as friends over hours immersed in episodes of Rhythm Roulette and Against the Clock and descending deep into alt-rap YouTube rabbit holes. A revisit of DJ Grand Wizard Theodore’s 1970s punk-infused New York City rap masterpiece ‘Subway Theme’ served as a spiritual moodboard for the album’s cross-pollination of urban and counter-culture styles. Across the seamlessly flowing set, including spoken vignettes and ambient instrumental segues, the band pay respect to a sprawling lineage of rap and punk iconoclasts from DJ Premier, DJ Screw and Dead Boys to Lukah, Griselda and Dïat – chopping and screwing beats on a dusty SP-404 and a Sequential Circuits Tempest, building imagined sample libraries from scratch.
While community and collaboration has always been integral to Algiers’ ethos, SHOOK brings this to its fullest manifestation. The liner notes read like a who’s who of ground-breaking and contemporary underground music, featuring Zack de la Rocha, Big Rube (The Dungeon Family), billy woods, Samuel T. Herring (Future Islands), Jae Matthews (Boy Harsher), LaToya Kent (Mourning [A] BLKstar), Backxwash, Nadah El Shazly, DeForrest Brown Jr. (Speaker Music), Patrick Shiroishi, Lee Bains III, and Mark Cisneros (The Make-Up, Kid Congo Powers). Their contributions throughout deftly reshape and recontextualize the notion of being Shook from a variety of perspectives, occupying shifting roles as oracles and narrators. “It very much deepens and broadens the world of Algiers”, says drummer Matt Tong.
Atlanta, where the genesis of this record took place, is ultimately at its heart. It opens with a robotic train announcement from Hartsfield Airport—iconic to many Atlanta natives—that used to frighten Fisher when he was a child. Field recordings and original samples created by the band emphasize throughout a sense of place, collectivity, imagined community and home, all building a world that evokes the elusive sensory experience of growing up in the urban South. “We were working in an environment that we were used to”, says guitarist Lee Tesche. “It feels like the most Algiers record that we’ve ever made.”
The accomplishment of this record is made all the more impressive by the fact it was made by a band who were falling apart and on the verge of breaking up. But instead they have produced an extraordinary, transformative record born from a shared sense of place and experience. “I think this record is us finding home,” says Mahan, with Fisher adding: “It was a whole new positive experience— having a renewed relationship with the city we’re from and having a pride in that. I like the idea that this record has taken you on a voyage but it begins and ends in Atlanta.”