Saturday, 21 May 2011

Hounds - Demo

So my friend Scott asked me to review his band's demo tape and I said yes, because journalistic integrity is apparently not even for journalists anymore. So here we go. This could be the end of a beautiful friendship. Scott is, unimaginatively, from Scotland. As such, he enjoys heart disease, depressing stories about homeless animals, horrendous sectarian violence and badly cut opiates (the rat poison gives it a 'right wee kick' apparently.)

The first song called Old Dog. Presumably named so in dedication to all Scottish women. Boom. Sorry, it's actually about Greyfriar's Bobby. Possibly. There might be some weird social contract in Scotland where all creative endeavours must be laced with the message "Our animals are more depressingly loyal than yours, you cunt." There is a song called Rainmachine, with the chorus "SHUT OFF THE RAIN MACHINE!" which speaking from my experience of Scotland, is actually called 'the sky' by most people, and Young Heart, Old Soul, about the battle between a proddie greasy spoon and a papist chippie. Probably not.

Alright, enough with the lame jokes. Let's get serious. There are lots of different little sounds stuck in here, like offal into a cow's stomach (that was the last one). There are bits of the spindly/shouty Latterman sound (which is becoming so popular we're going to have to come up with a proper name for it: Lattercore? Long Island pop-punk? Riot Grrrwl?), hardcore, mid-90s emo, punk rock and a few other things. There's a bunch of surprisingly acceptable straight heavy rock in Old Dog, for example. It doesn't always gel convincingly, but it's a first demo, so maybe that's to be expected. The transitions between sections of songs are a bit clumsy and stop-start sometimes and the solo at the end of Young Heart, Old Soul is a nice solo but the guitar tone on it doesn't really fit the song so it feels like it's sitting on top of the other music, rather than rolling with it.

The vocals are pleasingly strained and tortured, but not to the point where they're completely indecipherable. Though there is some confusion at times. I'm not sure if one particular line on Rainmachine is "I'm not journeying home", "I'm not jogging hard" or "I'm not Johnny Ramone". I don't have the lyrics at hand, so I can't really judge them on that, but they're yelled with enough conviction that I'm fairly sure it doesn't matter too much. I still enjoyed it.

I enjoyed these three songs. They're not completely fully formed, but it's promising, maybe sometimes they could do with sticking a bit longer with one of the really solid punk riffs they occasionally lock into, rather than jumping about quite so much, but that's really just my personal taste. If you like screamy mildly-gloomy punk rock that draws equally from three decades of punk rock, then this could be for you.

And at the end of Rainmachine we get a minute or so of noise and studio chatter, which consists of people screaming "FIGHT BACK!" at each other. If I wanted that, I could watch Scottish parliament videos on Youtube, thank you very much.

Hounds Demo available here

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