Monday, July 11, 2011

Everyone must check these out!!

I love this image... I can't stop thinking about it. I have it as my desktop image.
Patricia Coffie - "Daydreams" 2008

Born in Ghana, West Africa, 1975.

College of New Rochelle, New Rochelle, New York, B.S.N., 1998.
School of Visual Arts, NYC, NY.

Lives in New York City.

My new favorite band... can't stop listening to them!!
Ho-ag, "The Word from Pluto" 2006


No points were subtracted for the band name. Just in case you think I've got an agenda, let me air it out for you right here: I like bands that remind me of my other favorite bands. Ho-Ag's latest, The Word From Pluto, has plenty of hip touchstones in their blizzard of sound-- Les Savy Fav, Brainiac, Devo-- but played with bravery, balance, and smarts, carrying with it the feel of basement shows rather than arty detachment. You'd be lucky to find a basement with these guys playing in it. I'm lucky to have come across it.

More on hip: These guys' haircuts are...often inadvisable. More on influence: Put together their CD collections, these five gentlemen probably have the entire Fishbone discography among them. More on why none of that matters: "Paint the Navy" blows out of the gates with metronome-steady rhythms, blaring guitars, and keyboards that seem as if they'll malfunction at any point. "Under the Maps" features greater dynamic leaps, moving from windmill strums to head-bobbing bass and chicken-scratch chords, while singer Mat Parish plays along with whispered croons to megaphone-augmented emoting. "Lemon Juice or Vinegar" makes idle threats over muted guitars and seasick rhythms, but just in case they lost momentum (they didn't), "TDPK" resumes the sputtering chaos where guitars angle, the rhythm section stops and starts, and the synths squeal like pigs getting branded. But for a group that sounds like a science project with a drug stipend, everything's somehow in its right place. It's dance-punk, spazz-rock, rawk-revival, and post-hardcore-- all for a minute at a time at least.

Given that, there's a surprising amount of ebb and flow here, along with generous dollops of melody. No showing off, just demonstrable chops and the desire to write real songs from a more-than-slightly-askew angle. Parish isn't quite the strong personality that the bands name-dropped above have boasted, but he adds coy personality to "Lemon Juice and Vinegar" while still belting out the melodies needed to float the disjointed numbers like "Paint the Navy" and more. A more over-the-top vocalist would only clash with Ho-Ag's controlled chaos.

But as Levar Burton used to tell you in your cereal-and-pajamas days, you don't have to take my word for it. Start with "American Mall" if you get lost, let the keyboards lob you a life preserver while the band spits and seizes around it, and allow momentum-- something The Word From Pluto has in spades-- take you through to "Pinhead", the track that brandishes a 10-ton hook and rocks as hard as any 1970s arena act, except the drummer needs to be sober to pull off the ragged rhythms of the chorus. Some of the most welcome surprises are tacked onto the end of the record ("The Hoodoo Sea" might be the record's best), but you should know by now whether this accessible, prodigious spazz-rock entry isn't for you. If it is, get to work already and find it.

Jason Crock, October 6, 2006

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