Everything BurnsWith a schedule listing gigs every night this week in Austin, Texas, Shirock is one band that is not letting the opportunities presented by SXSW slip away, no doubt taking the time to market their recently released full-length album Everything Burns – an album that found five of its songs featured on MTV’s The Hills.

Comparisons between Shirock and rock heavyhitters U2 may seem overblown, but Shirock seems to be painting themselves as a mini-U2, launching a “Non-Profit Tour” in 2009 and releasing an album of soaring rock tracks that “wrestle with the big questions.” Additionally, lead singer – and band namesake – Chuck Shirock, who provides most of the vocals on the album (along with the guitar, piano, and glockenspiel) delivers his lyrics a bit like a young Bono (particularly on the expressively sung “Drag You Down”), with much fanfare and expansive emotional range. And perhaps it’s just my own personal preference for female singers, but for my money it seems Shirock is at their best when female keyboardist/songwriter Pap provides lead vocals (she can be found providing backup vocals on most tracks), such as in the airy “I’ll Take Rain” when she declares “I’ll take love on the bad days over no love on the best days.” Okay, so it’s not Shakespearean poetry, but the way she delivers it, it might as well be.

Most of the music on Everything Burns could be considered standard, slightly emo-ish rock, but the sheer energy behind every track on the album raises the band up a notch, and asks a bit more from listeners in the process. And Shirock isn’t looking to stick to one style and hammer out an album of repetitious rock melodies – instead, they’ve concocted a fine mixture of rock ballads, emotional lyricisms, and an earnest desire to make a difference. Chuck Shirock drives this point home with the following statement: “So much music these days is just noise. It might be great-sounding noise, but it’s still noise. It’s not communicating something real that makes you feel something., For us it’s about so much more than entertainment. We strive to make you feel something in everything we do.”

So far, so good, Shirock.

Zach’s Rating: 8 (out of 10)

To purchase Everything Burns digitally, visit Amazon

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