The Shook Twins write three kinds of songs- songs that give you goose bumps, songs that make you laugh, and songs that do both. Straight out of Sandpoint, Idaho, Laurie and Katelyn Shook play modern folk music that ranges from dark and progressive to light and humorous.
"We describe our genre as quirky folk," says Laurie. "Kind of a twist on the idea of folk that most people have."The identical twins' indistinguishable voices make for a special kind of twin harmony, which makes regular people singing harmony seem inadequate.
"We can really predict what we are going to do vocally when we sing together," Laurie says. "We will sing some song that we don't even know sometimes, and it will just come out in harmony. Our voices are so much the same; it's really sort of trippy."
Trippy is the right word to describe their polished vocal harmonies, which sound like reproduced versions of the same voice. Being able to perform this layered effect live, without the use of looping pedals, makes a Shook Twins show a unique and almost eerie experience. Adding to the eeriness are their haunting vocal melodies - one of the Shook Twins' signature features.
Add a wah-wah pedal on the banjo, a seedy and gruff sounding telephone microphone, the occasional beat box, chicken balking, and you've got the Shook Twins.
And what the heck is chicken balking you ask?
"We have a song called "Rose" about a chicken, and there is a little solo breakdown section where Katelyn speaks Rose's language," says Laurie.
The song is punctuated with Laurie's beat boxing and Katelyn's distorted backup vocals. The free form verses and lack of rhyme create a serious sounding contemporary folk structure.
And while "Rose" is ostensibly about a hen "missing feathers from her plume," the song typifies the Shook approach - it's as much about pecking around a yard as it is about the deeper philosophies of life. The girls croon, "Does she know that she has a soul? And does she know where we all go?"
The duo's first release, 2008's You Can Have the Rest is an impressive debut. Joined by guest musicians on bass, cello, and violin, their sound is full and joyful. The cover of the album features a bathtub full of assorted instruments and that's how the music sounds, like all of the instrumental lines went for a nice soak together.
Between their masterfully blended vocals and their co-producer credits on the album, the cohesion is no surprise. Both the girls received degrees in radio-TV-digital media production, allowing them to have a hands-on role in the production of their own albums.
"We went into college thinking that we wanted to be hosts on the travel channel called Travel Twins," says Laurie. "Now we find way more comfort on the stage than in front of the camera."
Window, the 2011 follow up, keeps with a watery theme, featuring the girls swimming together on the cover, but the album has a much more mature sound. It's not all dark and dreary, the album also includes light-hearted songs like the title track on which the ladies sing about all the people they would meet, and all the acid they would eat if they had a window to the 1960s.
Their Bend concert is part of a seven-show McMenamins bender. They will be joined by regular band member Kyle Volkman (affectionately known as the third twin) on standup bass, and jazzman Russ Kleiner on percussion, insuring a rich and rounded sound.
So, file all this away and stay tuned for some wintery mood music with a comical twist. Come the night of the show, it won't be those four Terminator Stouts giving you double vision, there really are two of them up there.
The Shook Twins
Free, all ages.
7pm. Wednesday, April 11.
McMenamins at the Old St. Francis School, 700 Northwest Bond Street