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Ladyhawk
Shots
(Jagjaguwar)

Ladyhawk’s Shots is a blast of emotional rock, an album that flows easily from full-blast catharsis to resignation without losing an ounce of its dark vibe. Still, it’s a pure rock album at heart, giving nods to everyone from Neil Young to The Replacements, Pavement to Wolf Parade, and Dinosaur Jr. to, well, Sebadoh. Like those of its influences, it’s also a smart album, one that shows that just because the guitars get loud, the music doesn’t have to be silly and meaningless.

For the most part, this is also a moody album. Every song is shot through with a hazy sound that gives it a distant, eerie feel. It’s not an overwhelming gothic quality, but a slight one--something hinted at, but not acted on. It helps to create tension in the music, and provides a subtle bit of texture to songs that otherwise feel relatively straightforward. It also gives the album a cohesive quality that too often rock albums lack: this isn’t a collection of singles, but an album, a piece of art meant to be heard from beginning to end.

From the very beginning, it’s obvious that the band isn’t in a cheery mood. There is a theme of loss and paranoia throughout. In the quiet/loud dynamics of opener “I Don’t Always Know What You’re Saying,” the confusion of the title reaches an emotional climax matched by the album closing “Ghost Blues,” a ten-minute piece of swaggering blues that ends with chaos and shouting before falling back into primitive instrumental squall, and finally quiet resignation. In between, is the slinking gloom of “Fear” and “Corpse Paint,” with their images of death and despair, the stoner heartache of “(I’ll Be Your) Ashtray” and “Faces of Death,” and the girl-group pop call for connection of “Night You’re Beautiful.” Add to these thematically linked songs the short, fast blasts of “S.T.H.D” and “You Ran,” and the album quickly becomes a near-definition of a great rock album: an album full of rambling, chaotic, and melodic pieces of heart-on-sleeve emotion, shot through not with cynicism, but with actual desire and force.


-Jeremy


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Thursday, July 24, 2014 All Contents Copyright © 2014 Stinkweeds Music