The garage dance Harlem Shakes have got nothing to do with Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, but instead hail from the only part of New York that is more likely to be followed by an exclamation point, Brooklyn.
You might feel that there ain’t another band you need to hear from the borough that brought us the memorial plaque of where Ebbet’s Field used to be, but you’d be wrong. Burning Birthdays is the kind indie fun you know you want; the kind we need now, more than ever.
Named after a dance move, The Harlem Shakes want you to boogie, and you will once you hear the first track, the song so fun even Williamsburg’s hippest hipsters will shuffle their feet to, "Carpetbaggers." But that’s not all you’ll get from these boys. The following "Red Right Hands" and "Felt Wings" are more catchy than dance-y, with choruses that you’ll keep on singing long after the tracks are over (whether you want to or not). The other side of the EP is a little more somber, and a little more traditional, but in no way less enjoyable. Ya’ll won’t be able to deny the driving beat of "Old Flames" but nothing is going to get you rockin’ more than "Sickos" and it’s sweet refrain (“If there’s a bomb in your hand/Just throw it”).
If one had to find a complaint with Burning Birthdays, it’d be that the release is only an EP. If one had to find another, it’d be that on the release, The Shakes take great songs that should be two, two-and-a-half minutes long, and stretch them into three at the least, fourth-and-a-half at the most. They might be trying to make their five tracks count for more, or they might be able to sustain these songs this long live, or both, but the lack of significant variety within the songs means they’re playing the same stanzas once or twice more than they should.
Every band from Brooklyn will make sure you know they’re from Brooklyn, whether you care or not. But the catchy, dance-y, altogether fun Burning Birthdays is a reason to move to where the Dodgers moved from. What’s more, the prospect of seeing what The Harlem Shakes will do is a reason to stay in the Borough of Homes and Churches.