New Music: Friday Roll Out! With Hookworms, and Anna Burch

What is there really left to say? It’s Friday but I don’t live for the weekend, I live for the entire week. While some days may become repetitive and mundane, you’re always surprised with something new that tosses that curve ball. Yeah, that’s why I never understood those quick to holler insipid acronyms like “YOLO” or “TGIF.” There’s more to life than drinking and not remembering what you did the night before. But who cares right? One would suppose we’re all finding our own paths to greatness, or at least some of us would like to think so anyway. I’m not attempting to enlighten anyone with any newfound wisdom, I’m getting by like everyone else but I’m enjoying this life as much as possible. My version of enjoyment I’m sure differs abundantly from everyone else so hey, just “enjoy.”
Now I’m not sure what to make of Anna Burch and her new Quit The Curse (Polyvinyl) but sometimes maybe it’s better if things are left unsaid, no? I don’t want to make any comparative notes here because the effort put forth doesn’t sound remotely like anyone else I’ve heard. But let me backtrack here for a moment. Burch obviously plays the role of singer-songwriter backed with a full band of friends assisting her get her emotional output here, and at times her delivery sounds a bit laconic, a word that’s almost become synonymous with J. Mascis’ name. Obviously, that would be the only similarity between the two. You hear it in the opening “2 Cool 2 Care” where she sings “Slamming all your drinks / You don’t have to think about me…” over the electric guitar strum as she sings about someone who isn’t there, or maybe never was, you pluck out more similarities to others. But I’ll get to that later. She sings sweetly here in her lazy monotone delivery and I must hit that repeat button a few times because the chorus makes up for everything the song is lacking, which isn’t much. I keep thinking the subject matter and that no-fucks-given delivery of Burch’s makes her so much more appealing. As the album progresses you find he songs are so well constructed, giving enough distortion, slight dissonance, harmonies and easy flowing verse-chorus-verse progressions all the more alluring. She obviously wears her heart on her sleeve as the lyricism exposes true feelings while the music bounces along happily. It’s a clever juxtaposition we have going here, not unlike how The Smiths perfected, while sounding nothing like the band. “Asking 4 A Friend” does that well where she’s comfortable sharing her use of drugs here that drove her a bit mad. Her words seem fitted with cynical restraint. Musically she and her friends are able to change things up, picking up the pace and adding in so many beautiful harmonies that are just exquisite. Some might find it difficult to deal with Anna Burch and Quit The Curse, but given a little time that would change because this isn’t an acquired taste, it’s something everyone should be able to get used to, fall in love with, and listen to over and over again.

What to make of Hookworms’ latest Microshift (Domino Recording Co.), the band’s third album… I’m not sure if the jury is still out on the band. There’s a lot going on within the music the boys from Leeds have created. As soon as the opening notes, or blips, kick off the first track, “Negative Space,” you’re not given an idea of where they’re heading. The 2-note electronic movement gives way to a shaking rhythmic dance groove that’s soon swallowed up by guitars. And halfway through, it begins to sound like a different song altogether. But that’s fine because the track itself clocks in at almost 7 minutes of enjoyable rock that traverses a sound that’s a mixture of different styles. There’s a grand wizardry attempted and successfully completed here. The band has its own brand of unadulterated indie-rock it’s holding onto here but there’s something quite different in the approach the band has, taking their sense of electronic usage and layering most of it beneath the full-frontal assault of drums-bass-guitar combination. The band is relentless, and you can take “Ullswater” as an example of execution. And while this track again has the group hitting the 7-minute mark, the members never let the song wallow in monotony. It never becomes repetitious, thrusting the hypnotic tone of the song into an ascending spiral of sound, whisking us all away to land far, far away. Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore. These Hookworms somehow, effortlessly I might add, move directly into “The Soft Season,” which opens as lovely as the last day of a NYC winter. They keyboard begins to bloom and the flowery vocal petals embrace the sunlight, soaking it all in. This leads directly into “Opener,” with its gradual crescendo that eventually softly rises soon after the 2 minute mark and then explodes at almost 3. Now we have expectations of the band. The concise output here doesn’t drag on as the track clocks in at over 8 and half minutes. The beauty in the musicology isn’t missed as they find a way to pull really great harmonies together. This is quite easily my own favorite track on the album and I’ve never been a fan of tracks that overstretch and pass my own personal limits. There’s a lot going on within the album and you have other tracks that are bound to give the blackhole effect of sucking you right into them like ‘Boxing Day” and “Shortcomings” but one thing is for sure, Microshift holds a lot of sonic diversity for fans of multiple sub-genres. Like me, you’ll probably find smething new every time you listen to the album.

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