Saturday, June 2, 2012
The Hague, "Black Rabbit", 2012
A recently aired episode of the British comedy show “Outnumbered” had the youngest child wanting to stay home from school due to believing turning up at school would be too risky because it was Friday the Thirteenth. A number of other suspicions the little girl had learned from the next door were also run through during the course of the show although giving money to Albanians was correctly pointed out by her oldest brother as racism. An unmentioned old superstition suggests black rabbits crossing your path are a bad omen and even today it still is since the black rabbit is most likely a young child’s pet running away from home. However this Portland band The Hague’s “Black Rabbit” album found its way to my home. The band describes the music that they create as quiet songs played loud and it’s hard to disagree.
“Black Rabbit” opens with an instrumental ironically titled “An Open Book Conversationalist”. Despite its lack of words the song sets the tone of the album well with a poppy folk sound reminiscent of The Go-Betweens. A group harmony opens “Everyone in This Town” and the slick pop mixed with violin makes it next to impossible not to think once again of The Go-Betweens and the same goes for the occassional feminine vocals. Lyrically “I’m Sorry I Thought This Was a City” is a drunken reflection and a solitary profanity in the tune jars with jangly guitar. An assurredness rings loud in “Valkrie” due to The Hague’s collectively strong songwriting. Due to its sweet melancholy “Hour Glass” would fit comfortably on a Red House Painters or any other Mark Kozelek project with attention grabbing gentleness.
While the Hague do carry features of bands from last century, the band is definitely a product of this present age. Somewhere in the information I received along with this album, it is mentioned that all members of the Hague are bearded so make of that what you will. The music is really what counts and there’s not a bad song on this album although the folky group harmonies are the album’s weaker moments. Speaking loudly for the band is an unpretentious combination of shimmering guitar and violin with often unpredictable rhythmic structures. The The Hague’s songs are here to do the talking and there’s enough variation between songs which gives no reason to hit the skip button as this.
The Hague had a successful kickstarter project going to raise funds for a vinyl for a version of the album.
The Hague on facebook
The Hague on myspace
The Hague on reverbnation
The small takeover on facebook
Thursday, May 31, 2012
First up DC band Dot Dash who I keep seeing compared to The Jam but in this particular tune I hear a lot of The Cure.
And at Safety Second hailing from the other side of the Atlantic, The Dissociates from London.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
The Memorials "Delirium",2012
Often a mix of various genres doesn’t look good on paper but can still sound great. Take Faith No More for example, their fusion of heavy metal, funk, hip-hop, and progressive rock sounds like the worst concept in the universe on paper however the band themselves are great. Similar to Faith No More, The Memorials are also San Francisco dwellers. The Memorials feature drummer, Thomas Pridgen, who was once in the MARS VOLTA and that alone correctly suggests unpredictability for the group’s song structures and a drummer who bangs the rhythm out hard and steady with the sticks.
The band combine hip hop rhythms combined a no-nonsense garage rock approach although there is an interlude where a brass section lays a downbeat jazzy vibe amongst the angst in “Flourescent’s Unforgiving”. In the song, the band lyrically take on the American prison system using free labour and the illegality of the growth of a sometimes medicinal herb. Funky bass rythms blare out in “Gone” as the soothing soulful voice of Vivecia Hawkens smooths out a smattering of the jagged edges although later in the tune the guitarist suprises due to an allowed permit to go wild. Deceptively “Daisies” starts out like an all to familiar radio rock song but then Hawkins sings in the fashion of the Throwing Muses, Kirstin Hersh and is able convince that she genuinely is sorting out her lovelife by picking the petals off flowers. Deftones style nu-metal weighs heavily in the title track but the band’s potpourri of colliding sounds ensures that there is much more for the listener to be dragged in by with soul and progressive rock all hanging out the bait. “Heavyweight” carries a Mike Tyson punch with steady drumming right through and the soul crooning belies the rock layered underneath until concluding with a strong self-assurance. The close to twelve minutes “Mr Entitled” ensures that the song’s duration doesn’t equate tto edium owing to the band constantly surprising.
Often listening to “Delirium” is akin to peeling an onion with multiple layers underneath. A quirky catchiness mirrored with unpredictability provides the often-lengthy songs with an easy listenability. The vocal talents of Vivecia Hawkins are definitely a huge part of the band’s sound with her ability to provide smooth sultry vocals and then rapidly seethe with rage. It’s tough to pick a highlight or a lowlight on “Delirium” as all the tunes are equally electrifying. Those that need a change from their Bellrays albums will find similar yet far gruntier tunes with this album. I haven’t heard The Memorials’ first album but if it’s of the same merit then ownership is mandatory.
The memorials on facebook
The small takeover on facebook
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