[Learning Curve Records, 2012]
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Learning Curve Records
I like the feeling of unease, of stomach-churning grooves. The way the guitars aren’t afraid to draw blood. There’s nothing pleasant about any of this; it’s by turns nasty, vicious and mean. But that’s the hook. It’s genuinely dirty and dangerous, misanthropic in its rage. If anything has changed for Hawks since last year’s RUB, it’s that they become even more proficient in stitching together melodic hardcore aggression with belligerent noise rock brutality. It sure ain’t pretty, but it’s definitely beautiful.
Opening with “White Crosses,” a song we featured on the site last month, the direction for Pushover is established quickly and emphatically: this one is going to hurt. Given the band’s development over the past few years, that much isn’t exactly a surprise; what’s really impressive here is the consistency with which this band does damage and the variety of ways in which they do it—sledgehammer riffs, abrasive post-punk grooves, piledriver drumming, barbed wire vocals. “Blistered” attacks in a rush, a whirling din of flying dagger guitars and stinging jabs, while “Plush” strikes with cold-blooded force, a crushing combination of brutal body blows and lead-fisted gut punches. Elsewhere “Sunder King” shows legitimate growth and maturation as the band shifts from blitzkrieg to a slow burn with Mike Keenan sounding for all the world like Mike Patton channeling his inner David Yow. It’s a much more dynamic and pensive approach, but the track cuts no less deep. Indeed, if the new Tomahawk record can match this level of intensity, I’ll be a happy man.
Over the past couple of years, Hawks have quietly become one of the most prolific and consistently great bands in the city. And if you can stomach the battering chaos, Pushover is indisputably one of the best local albums of the year.
Hawks will celebrate the release of Pushover this Friday, May 18 at Star Bar. Supporting them will be the Sunglasses, the Liverhearts, 3 Man Band, Skin Jobs and Cheap Art. Doors at 9pm. Admission is FREE.
Cappuccino Is… The Producer’s Best Friend Vol.1: The Alchemist Sessions
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I’m old enough to remember some of the pioneers of hip hop—Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, the Cold Crush Brothers. Since those early formative years, the genre has splintered into a thousand iterations and undergone innumerable (r)evolutions. Musical and cultural boundaries have been pushed, expanded and altered forever. But in all that time and though all the turbulent, world-altering upheaval, the hallmarks of great hip hop has not changed—at the end of the day it’s still about dropping dope beats and delivering killer rhymes.
For that reason, the highest compliment that I can pay to Eddie ‘Cappuccino’ Meeks is that his music reminds me of so much of what attracted me to hip hop all those years back. Working with DJ Jon Doe and producer the Alchemist, Meeks’ latest effort, Cappuccino Is… The Producer’s Best Friend Vol.1: The Alchemist Sessions, is a short but highly infectious set of grimy cuts. With few exceptions his backing tracks are classic bangers featuring booming drums and scattershot percussion laced with bits of funk, soul and R&B. On the mic, he attacks with rugged vehemence—his rhymes are smooth but his tone and cadence are caustic. Highlights include the head-nodding opener “Chemistry” and the epic coke smuggler fantasy “Cochabamba” where Meeks flashes his considerable skills as a lyricist and storyteller. For the most part the hooks on this joint aren’t as sticky as they were on last year’s stellar full-length, Cappuccino’s Unauthorized Records, but Meeks’ flow remains tight and his presence is as commanding as ever. There are a few lulls here and there but this one is definitely a keeper.