Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review: Hammer Hawk - Friendship Beverage

It's hard to let go of the past, isn't it? Always comforting (Unless it's associated with a bad memory), the past gives us a glimpse of what helped shape us into the people we are today. Sure, some of you may hate what you've become, but there's no denying you've become stronger because of it. That same self-appreciation/loathing has helped build countless bands over the years yearning to prove the past isn't dead, and that from the ashes, a mighty musical phoenix could burst forward,. giving us something familiar, but strangely new as well. Hammer Hawk fits this mold perfectly with their new EP, Friendship Beverage

With similarities to bands like Bear Vs. Shark, Hammer Hawk rides the wave that was, at once, the popular go to genre for smart, but dryly aggressive, alternative music. Nothing here is over the top, opting to draw you in with well constructed riffs and fitting vocals. These guys have been playing music for a long time (And good music at that), so they know what they're doing. It might feel like a bit of a passion project, but that usually leads to some of the best work a group of musicians can put together.

"Split Peas" feels a little empty, but what it lacks in musical potency it gains in its overall effect. The drums are slick and clean, and while the guitar and bass never hit you as hard as you would like, there's a serene feeling the song gives you that you can't ignore. It's surprisingly chill for an alternative track, which is a fairly unique trait in a genre that usually tries to ignore such associations. It's a fine track to be sure, but in conjunction with how strong the rest of the EP is, it does feel a little weak.

"Terrible Truth" is the catchiest song here, working well with a perfectly assembled chorus and balanced assault of clean and distorted guitar parts. It feels like a ballad, but doesn't fall to its usual mumbling and grumblings. "Up North" gets slightly Americana on us, digging into some country-esque drumming and breaking out parts that would make Willie Nelson jealous. Don't get me wrong, it's still alternative, but there's an enjoyable variance here that makes it stand out a bit, while still fitting alongside the rest of the cannon they're trying to create.

"The Road" and "Kindling" both come out strong out of the gate, relying of power rather than grace to get the job done. They're both catchy and melodic, but use their power in different ways. "Kindling" uses its aggressive chorus to pull the song along, feeling like a spazstic, but well oiled, train trudging along the tracks. "The Road" uses it power subtly, being not as forceful about it as "Kindling", but maintaining it longer and with more purpose. 

Friendship Beverage does feel like something you might have listened to on repeat about ten years ago, but that doesn't count against it at all. Instead, it makes you wish those ten years had never gone by in the first place, or at least, if those ten years had to go by anyways, that you'd spent it listening to more work by these fine gentlemen. Nostalgia is never something to frown down upon. It's something we should embrace, cautiously, with open arms. 

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