Shake Faithful - Empathy Street Date: June 18 2004 Release Party @ NYC Knitting Factory (Tap Bar) john biz - vocals, guitar ryan barfield - drums brady schecter - bass arik abel - keys, guitar 'Flip-flops in December, for the first time I can remember,' so begins 'Teach,' the opening track on Empathy, the debut from Brooklyn's Shake Faithful, bandleader John Biz expressing wide-eyed astonishment at his new surroundings. The 25-year old songwriter had just moved into a giant open loft in an ex-sweater factory with the intention of recording an album. While Biz found unprecedented inspiration in the new environment, the kind of building where friendly neighbors carry instruments from room to room in summer sandals, the political storm brewing in the outside world changed directions chaotically on a seemingly daily basis. Within weeks, the loft - which was to double as a living space and a recording studio - was tricked out in vivid psychedelic colors by Biz and his girlfriend, Nancy -- artists by trade, housepainters by necessity. With the multi-color womb set up, recording began for Empathy in earnest on January 1st, 2003. The next year was spent constructing the disc from the bottom up -- experimenting with instrumentation (two drummers were used on several songs, including 'Waterfalls'), sound environments (basic tracks for 'Subway' were recorded in the station beneath the building), and enticing neighbors to participate in recording sessions ('Upside' features the dude next door on toy piano). When the last note of the album had been recorded, Biz looked down at his journal and noticed the date. January 1st, 2004. Empathy is an elegant product of it's environment: East Williamsburg Industrial Park, Brooklyn in the year 2003. Shake Faithful, with it's ever-shifting motley cast of musicians, meanwhile, continued to gig through Manhattan's lower end. While the band's eminently accessible music culls inspiration from perennial populist favorites like The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Nirvana (witness the slip-sliding vocal hook of 'Dream'), it also finds energy in more avant-garde sources like Frank Zappa and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd (check out the remixed angry creditors on the 12-minute sound collage title track). The two elements - accessibility and experimentation - collide full-force in the band's explosive live sets, which often find the group making wild left turns into surprising noise-drenched improvisations (occasionally supplemented by Biz's MC5-like saxophone squonks). Biz also bemusedly makes his guitar squall like a racecar, as he does on 'Little Happy Place,' a trick he picked up from years of late-night street racing on Staten Island -- proof positive than that angsty youth culture ain't dead after all. In fact, it's found mature (and oddly peaceful) form channeled through Shake Faithful, who will unleash their sapphire lasers of pure love on stages around the east coast and on westward throughout 2004. ShakeFaithful.com.