When confronted with stretching hours alone during the 2020 pandemic, River Shook found themselves in a unique position to explore their own musical voice. Their solo project, Mightmare, was born, as an independent project separate from their country-punk band, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers. Now, River Shook releases the first Mightmare single to feature a full musical cast, “Can’t Get What I Want”, with Blake Tallent on guitar and synth, Ash Lopez on bass, and Ethan Standard on drums. 

The lyrics of “Can’t Get What I Want” are immediately accusatory, as the speaker takes issue with the one-sided nature of a problematic relationship. Shook shines light on how the song “highlights a moment of clarity as our protagonist realizes in real time that demanding better treatment from an abuser is like expecting honey from a hornet’s nest.” Indeed, this realization stings with the arrival of the chorus, when Shook shouts the song’s namesake. The lingering dreaminess accompanying the lyrics “I can get anything I want” ends, as the tempo picks up and the rhythm changes to a steady emphasis on every downbeat. Reality sets in, as the speaker escapes fantasy and accepts that their abuser will not make any concessions.

Mightmare plants itself fully into the punk, indie-rock aesthetic, with the wail of its lyrics and head-banging instrumentation. Shook’s first solo album, Cruel Liars, features more of Shook’s punk sound. It’s a departure from the distinct country influences of Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, which is a testament to Shook’s musical versatility. Represented by Kill Rock Stars, this is sure to be only the beginning of Mightmare’s electrifying turn into the alternative scene.

In the mood to be vicariously angry via punk energy? Stream “Can’t Get What I Want” on these platforms now!

Caitlin Moehrle