Top Sounds - H

HANGMEN, The - East Of Western {Acetate} Just like the recent ‘Best Of..’ album, this new studio album from one of sleazy Rock ‘n’ Roll’s best had me reaching for superlatives to place alongside HEARTBREAKERS, HANOI ROCKS and REPLACEMENTS comparisons. Put simply, many bands try to do this decadent, effortless Rock ‘n’ Roll but few nail it with such aplomb as those bands mentioned - and THE HANGMEN. This is the first album to feature ex-SUPERSUCKERS guitarist Ron Heathman and he wastes no time in making his presence felt on tracks like ‘Graverobbers’ and ‘She Cracked’, both of which feature that unique SUPERSUCKERS burn. Elsewhere ‘Had A Girl’ is a cool acoustic-based saunter and ‘Betrayal’ could be the best outtake from ‘Exile On Main Street’ that never was while ‘Drink Smoke’ takes the title of album highlight. Vocalist Bryan Small again sounds impressive with a hint of Bon Scott coming through. While this will never change the world, it IS a fine slice of noxious, barroom Rock ‘n’ Roll that has certainly made my world a better place. (13.07.12)

HATED ‘TIL PROVEN - Songs For The Short Of Attention {TNS} Debut album for this band outta England’s North-West and a full throttle and embittered blaze through a dozen tracks it is. The songs certainly pull no punches when it comes to the lyrical content with ‘Going To War’, ‘Soldier Song’ and closer ‘1945’ in particular lambasting the futility of war while ‘Festive Feeler’ has a pop at the guys who dress as Santa to entertain kids. Musically, this is solid, fast Punk Rock as ‘Scum’ proves but laced with a penchant for CAPDOWN-esque Ska. I did hear a few GOOD RIDDANCE style guitar riffs in there, but also an over reliance on really annoying lead guitar solos. Elsewhere, ‘Fuck The EDL’ is a take on an EXPLOITED song (if you don’t know which one, do some research) and, while the lyrics are printed for all songs, they’re really fucking hard to follow. Highlight? Probably ‘Nothing’ that features Jim who used to be in FREAKS UNION and ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Legs’. (07.01.13)

HDQ - Lost In Translation {Boss Tuneage} How does this happen? Bands that leave a whopping 23 years between albums should not come back with an album this good - I’ll accept mere ‘decent’ albums but this good? An album that is without question one of the best of 2013? Thinking about it, not many bands were ever as good as HDQ. Yep, Golly is back with Dickie Hammond and they’ve thumped out 12 new tracks that are imbibed with a subliminal quality few can match. There’s not a duffer here but highlights include ‘Dig In Deep’ that features those classic ringing guitars all energised to a hyperactive level, ‘Room With A View’ and ‘The Never Ending Winter’ both show a slightly slower, more considered pace while the title track sets things up perfectly as an opener. Vocalist Golly sounds awesome - powerful, tuneful and clear allowing Hammond’s guitar to construct these wonderful songs. The CD includes ‘Toronto’ from the 7" below, while four tracks feature former drummer Lainey. Easily on par with their previous output (which is pretty hard to fault!) and a truly essential release on any level. (26.04.14)

HDQ - Hand Me Downs {Boss Tuneage} Sometimes, some thing comes along that just makes much else in life rather redundant; that no matter what worries you have, this thing will see them evaporate in an ever-diminishing pool of piss while you claim, "life is fucking good!" This delicious green 7" is one of those things! If you don’t know the HDQ name, well, they were a British band from the late 80s and recorded a string of classic records. There is also a LEATHERFACE connection - go google it! This is the band’s first new work in over 20 years and you get two songs, both of which are highly melodic. It’s actually the b-side, ‘Toronto’ that is more ‘HDQ-like’ and could’ve easily been on ‘Soul Finder’ while the lead track is rather understated with the bass carrying a lot of the melody and those classic ringing guitars less evident. Vocalist Golly sounds in great form - clear, melodic and as confident as ever. For fans of DAG NASTY, LEATHERFACE and HUSKER DU - but I hope the new album has slightly bigger guitars!! (29.09.13)

HIGH DIVE - s/t {No Idea} Ten track debut album from former DEFIANCE, OHIO man, Ryan Woods. I was never a big D,OHIO fan but this, for some reason, really worked for me. The sound is a little less folky than D,OHIO was with tracks like ‘I And You And We’, ‘Hi, How Are You?’ and closer ‘Thank You’ incorporating a feel similar to RVIVR. For those who don’t know, HIGH DIVE is also a gay/queer Punk band. That’s not a problem for me (and it certainly should NOT be a problem for anyone else) and the band makes it clear with tracks like ‘Sincerity’ and one of the album’s highlights, ‘Tennessee’ that features wise words and a ragged, rollicking arrangement that the likes of AGAINST ME! would no doubt be happy to steal. I’ve been coming back to this quite often and hear new influences each time - a hint of ELVIS COSTELLO sometimes, an excellent piano part on ‘Restless’... Oh - and a great cover of ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’! A strong debut with a neat foldout lyric sheet and bright but not polished production. I’m sure they are already book to play this year’s Fest! (29.04.12)

HOLIDAY - s/t {JSNTGM, Pumpkin, Lost Cat, Brassneck, Antikorper Export} A four-track 7" from this UK quartet and there is only one word to describe it: stunning. OK - I guess I could use two words: Fucking spectacular. Yep, this is incendiary stuff that kicks off with ‘Missiles On The Roof’ - a track about the London Olympics that is both angry and catchy and remains distinctly Punk Rock without resorting to cliches. The next track is even better; ‘Lunch Break’ is a bit more sedate yet equally effective. On the flip (incidentally, this is pressed on lovely bile-green vinyl!) you get ‘Sunshine’ (the weakest of the songs on here, but still a cracker) and ‘They Said We Could Have Everything In The Argos Catalogue’. All the songs have socio-political observations that are clever and witty and don’t resort to the ‘fuck the system’ banality. Soundwise, I instantly heard a FREAKS UNION vibe mixed with THE MAGNIFICENT. Production is raw and strong. Awesome stuff that doesn’t rely on speed, bad language or plagiarism to make its point. In other words, it’s thoughtful, inspired and bloody good. (27.06.14)

HOT WATER MUSIC - Live In Chicago {No Idea} Sometimes, records can be better than sex. Um - let me rephrase that - quite often records (and CDs!) can be better than sex. This triple disc package is one such being. Florida’s mercurial HOT WATER MUSIC releases its second live album and this time it’s a double disc set featuring 30 tracks recorded over two nights in February 2008. Not only that, there’s a 25 track DVD too. I know from experience (several in fact) that live, not many bands can match HWM. While this may not be as incredible as the band was around ‘No Division’ era, it is still a jaw-droppingly impressive set of songs. Tracks like ‘Wayfarer’, ‘Alachua’, ‘Turnstile’, ‘No Division’, ‘Moonpies For Misfits’ and, in particular, ‘Rooftops’ are toweringly powerful live and the versions here are testament to that. The DVD is a professionally filmed job, lots of cameras and quality sound. Packaging is minimal - just a black and grey gatefold digipack but somehow that sparseness accentuates the complexities of the music. Great place for the HWM novice to start - and essential for those ardent die-hard fans (like me!). (14.06.13)

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