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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Secondhand sound pleases listeners

It is not particularly shocking that students in Madison join in a national campus appreciation of a good acoustic band. It is apparently shocking that the Madison music scene offers more than one worthy of attention.

Certainly, spending an evening in participation of a “Sex at Six” sing-along is enjoyable. But even the Profits take a break now and then from dominating Luther’s Blues. In fact, the quartet will take their sounds out of town until the end of the month with Party in the Park.

Have no fear. Head down the usual trail to Luther’s this Wednesday to discover there is in fact an alternative foursome — Secondhand.


As self-described, the Secondhand sound is one of Dispatch meeting Coldplay with some Maroon 5. The musical styles may be passed down, but recreation can be as powerful as the conception.

The story is one of typical happenstance. During 2001, frontman Jake Shimon was creating his solo record when he came upon cousin Shafton, owner of a small Chicago-based recording company.

In adding finishing touches to the 2002 sophomore record The Inspiration EP, the Arnold brothers — hailing from Shimon’s hometown of Mequon — were enlisted.

Not until the following year did the brothers — Derek on lead guitar and Blake on drums — cohere with the cousins to form what has become Secondhand.

Intention may not have brought the quartet in contact, but it certainly keeps them together. With the power of the pen, songwriter Shimon infuses just enough emotion in his lyrics to make them relatable.

There is just enough intensity in the melodies to make tunes energetic, just enough harmony to make them calm. And there is just enough inclusion of the cowbell to leave any Wisconsinite satisfied.

The strength of Secondhand lies in the composition of the sound. With beautifully bare vocals singing honest words, Shimon defines such a sound. “Still Can’t Leave” proves an ideal example of that execution.

Soft guitars and loose harmonies support the chorus, “But I’m tired and I’m weak / And I need to go to sleep / I’m worn down / I’m worn out / I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I can’t breathe.” Surrounded by such tones, the primary voice produces a dreamy, nearly haunting effect.

The scene Shimon questioningly sings of could be from the silver screen. Using such arrangement, the song provides an undisturbed reflection of the classic romance film moment of seemingly lost love.

Similarly, “On a Higher Plane” develops a tension between Shimon’s vocals and Derek’s precise stylistics on the guitar. Relying one on the other, the sounds produce a reeling effect. As Shimon sings “Love / What can I say about love / That’s not been said about love / Cause I don’t know if I’m speaking for myself,” Derek responds through his chords.

The interaction draws in and captures the listener, making the song as memorable as it is pleasing.

Though the reflective lyrical content often centers on the push and pull of relationships, the sounds are not strictly solemn.

Secondhand can as easily play an upbeat, infectious song. Per usual, the live show makes numbers such as “Saturday Mourning” — the tune boasting of the aforementioned cowbell percussion — even more appealing.

The performance of the clean rock bass paired with the soul-slanted guitar riffs on “Waitin’ on a Summertime” proves even catchier than the recorded version allows. The sense of optimism and promise of which Shimon sings in such tunes boasts of the energy of the band’s performance.

The foursome will be set to share their enthusiasm onstage as readily as they offer introspection from their musical labors.

Opening for indie rock band Local H with Mary Ellis, the show begins with Secondhand at 8:00 Wednesday evening. Luther’s opens its doors to the 18 and up crowd at 7:00 with tickets at $12.50 the day of the show and $10.50 in advance.

Cannot wait until then? Head to for pre-performance preparation with an abundance of live and recorded songs.

More than enough alternate versions leave one eagerly anticipating just what Secondhand will have ready for the crowd, proving there are always alternatives.

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