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Swift Ships
Rebel Renaissance
New Boy

You have to admit, on first listen Ben Shanaberger’s voice is kind of alarming. I’m talking, of course, about Rebel Renaissance, the debut album from Swift Ships, and if you’ve heard it you’ll remember that on the first track lead singer Shanaberger’s voice comes creaking unwillingly through the speaker like it has somewhere better to be. I kept listening though, and by the second track I was on board with the peculiar Swift Ships style: instrumentals that are pure country-rock and groaning, emotive vocals that suck you into each song in spite of yourself.

As the album’s title indicates, these boys are not interested in fluffy-bunny love songs. Almost every track references guns, drinking, or the road, and sometimes all three together (a rather chilling combination for anyone else driving out there). These songs, aided by Scott Loving’s wailing guitar sounds, are rough-and-ready, silly/serious cowboy tunes that should be played over a pickup truck’s speakers to the hound riding in the bed.

Play this album when you’re yearning for a smart but simple life, for the days when men were men, dogs were dogs, and women were Miss Susan.

Favorite Track: Track 2, “Gunslinger”

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Kris Larson works as a freelance journalist in San Francisco. She has a degree in English Literature from San Francisco State but has so far managed to remain out of the food service industry. You can visit her website at
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