Top Sounds - H

HARD FEELINGS - Side Ways {Dirt Cult} PODCAST PLAYED Five years on since the debut album, this Duluth, Minnesota quartet deliver this 12 track follow-up that had me thinking of a number of Recess bands - GRABASS CHARLESTONS, TOYS THAT KILL and ARRIVALS in particular. Plenty of top tunes too including ‘Vision’ that’s got an OFF WITH THEIR HEADS attack, ‘Don’t Need You’ that’s got a great vintage sound a’la THE CROWD, ‘Most Times’ which, oddly, had me thinking BLATZ while ‘Cycles’ is a five-and-a-half minute epic that comes on like ‘Sister Lovers’-era BIG STAR cranked by DINOSAUR JR! There seems to be a couple of vocalists too; one who is rather discordant, affected and laconic and sings ‘Silly Game’ while the other is more direct and sneering who sings stuff like ‘Eyes Of The World’ (which could be the album’s best track). They work really well together, creating something that is both simultaneously complimentary and abrasive. Interesting stuff that took a couple of plays to get into, but the reward was well worth the effort. (20.01.19)

HAWKWIND - At The Roundhouse {Cherry Red} ‘Bloody hippies..’ I hear some of the more tunnel-visioned readers proclaim. I guess you might be right to a degree too, but us that are more enlightened will know that live, when HAWKWIND nail it, they are relentlessly bludgeoning. And I’ve seen them heaps - so I know. This double album sees them back at the Roundhouse for the first time since ‘77 - when MOTORHEAD supported! It’s interesting is the first three tracks are acoustic - something I have never seen them do and that includes a take on ‘The Watcher’ from Lemmy’s era. From there it blows up with a bludgeoning, cosmic, 10-minute blaze through the psychic jams of ‘Born To Go’ - which could be the album’s best. Other highlights include the rather majestic ‘Magnu’, ‘You Better Believe It’ that’s as good as I’ve ever heard it, the epic ‘The Machine’ which has what sounds like a piano powering it along complete with a wild, freak-out sax solo and the vaguely honky-tonk hit of ‘Brainbox Pollution’. Of course, the ubiquitous ‘Silver Machine’ closes the whole thing. Totally enjoyable stuff and so pleasing that they can still kick up a cosmic commotion - especially as it’s been 20 years or more since I last saw them. (29.10.18)

HEAVY HEART - Distance {Brassneck} Ten track album from this quartet outta Nantes, France that instantly had me thinking of BANNER PILOT if fused with J CHURCH with added ATARIS and IRON CHIC for good measure. Of the ten tracks, best moments include opener ‘Unravel’ that had a SENSELESS THINGS energy, ‘Caged’ that barrels along on a sparse guitar lead and some excellent mass backing vocals (which are evident throughout in fact) and ‘Out Of Reach’ that’s got a neat arrangement and given real depth by those massed backing vocals. Highlight would have to be ‘Poison’ that brings all the best bits together in a single two minute track and also boasts a boisterous vocal. As a negative, I would’ve liked to have heard a bit more grit about the production as it’s all a tad smooth in places; but then I’m guessing garageland isn’t the aim either. One to watch I reckon. (09.06.18)

HERESY - Face Up To It! {Boss Tuneage} 30 years ago, HERESY recorded this, a 17 track album that always had the potential to be great, but was destroyed via truly terrible production. Boss Tuneage reissued it a few years ago with better production and have upped that once again for this 30th anniversary release. It seems the original masters were discovered and restored and the result is spectacular. The songs sound dynamic, intense, clear, loud and, without sounding crass, comes over like a whole new album - it’s that much better. Standouts remain my personal faves - opener ‘Consume’, ‘Belief’ and ‘Against The Grain’. Along with the original 17 tracks, this throws in nine bonus tracks recorded during the same session and released on the Japanese version of the album. Among those are some select covers that really indicate where HERESY were coming from: DYS, SIEGE, YOUTH OF TODAY. Released as a double album, or CD with great packaging (which includes new liner notes from the band, photos, flyers and lyrics), this is pretty essential as a history lesson and for those who own the original and just know it’s a good album - now you have the proof. (30.12.18)

HOLIDAY - California Steamin’ {Brassneck} PODCAST PLAYED These fellas are fucking great and this ten track album is their debut long-player. If you miss the days of MEGA CITY FOUR and SENSELESS THINGS gigs, then you have just found your new favourite band, but brought right up to date. Opener ‘Let’s Go Outside’ would be a standout on either bands’ best records while the second track, ‘Tuppence For Hate’ could be the best track on the whole album as LEATHERFACE-esque guitars load up with lyrics tackling UK race relations and Brexit. Other goodies among the remaining tracks include ‘Lunch Break’ the flows along on an understated, clean guitar lead, the high energy ‘Everything Seems So Strange’ and ‘CQ’ that contains one of the best choruses on the album - and it’s packed with them! Production is fantastic too; it’s raw enough to remain urgent yet all the instruments are audible and have plenty of room while the vocals are clear, kinda sarcastic sounding and retain their Mancunian accent giving the whole sound a genuine identity. Great stuff that’s just quality songwriting cranked out with a sense of take-it-or-leave-it joy. Recommended!!

Hit HERE for material reviewed prior to 2018 including: