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SXSW Soundcheck: The Blind Shake surf new turf

The Twin Cities' beloved guitar blasters head into Are You Local? and South by Southwest fresh off their surf-rock tour with "Swami" John Reis.

Another year, another collaborator and another crazy, ear-blasting album by the Blind Shake.

The familial power trio — with dueling-guitarist brothers Mike and Jim Blaha and their drummer cousin Dave Roper — will roll into First Avenue on Friday for the Are You Local? showcase still riding the wave of their latest project. They just issued a surf-rock album and finished a subsequent tour with Southern California punk/garage-rock vet Swami John Reis of the bands Rocket From the Crypt, Drive Like Jehu and the Hot Snakes.

Titled “Modern Surf Classics,” the Reis collaboration showcases the intricate yet wild, interactive guitar work and steam-rolling rhythms at the core of any Blind Shake project, including the group’s handful of its own albums and a 2011 record with another veteran guitar guru, Minneapolis’ Michael Yonkers. Reis first caught the Blind Shake backing Yonkers at the Turf Club in 2011 and realized the potential.

“Their sound is like a garbage truck falling off a cliff, this clamorous, big sound without it being macho,” Reis said two weeks ago back at the Turf Club, where his tour with the Blind Shake landed.

About a year after that initial meeting, Mike Blaha — whose use of the deeper-sounding baritone guitar helps define the Blind Shake’s unique sound — got a text from Reis asking if they’d be interested in making the surf-rock record. The message simply read: “Let’s bend steel.”

“I just said yes before even talked to these guys,” Mike recalled. Said Jim Blaha, “It feels like each album and collaboration, we learn something new, and something good always comes from it.”

The project with Reis earned the Blind Shake a small bundle of new press nationwide in recent weeks, especially from hip music blogs such as Stereogum, Vice's Noisey outlet and BrooklynVegan -- the latter of which also posted news on the trio's new album. Titled "Fly Right," the disc will arrive April 14 via the collectors-geared garage-rock label Slovenly Records. 

After a short stretch at home, the Blind Shake will ride the momentum of "Modern Surf Classics" down to Austin, Texas, for a busy go-round in the South by Southwest Music Conference from March 18-22. Among the SXSW gigs the trio has lined up are the Panache Booking showcase on Friday night at Hotel Vegas and the Fun Fun Fun Festival's 10th anniversary day party on Saturday afternoon at Mohawk.

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