Calling it folk-punk isn’t right, but I’m not sure I agree with the post-punk tag slapped on their onesheet either. Hannahband, from Sydney, Australia, have a gritty garage element, making them fall somewhere in between folk-punk minimalism and Murder City Devils coarseness, all while wallowing in lo-fi production that makes the songs even harsher (and more beautiful).
Those styles pull together well with the opening “Receding Hairline,” which is rough around the edges with enough melody and tunefulness that it complements the unamplified sing-shout group vocal chorus. That diversity nicely highlights the changeups without being abrupt or awkward. Later, there’s more minimalism that tends to last through the entire songs, such as “I Will Let You Down” and “No, No Regrets,” as those songs lack that extra character that makes things more interesting.
On Retirement, the louder the guitar, the stronger the band’s sound is. “She Came As a Wedding” pulls a nice post-punk feel, and “I Don’t Know A Thing About You” really stands out as a lead track. It’s loud, faster, and punky with some Spencer Moody-style harsh vocals that shout and wallow over the frustration. The production is rough and grainy, and it complements that viewpoint emphasized in the song. There is a lot at play behind the songwriting in Hannahband and the band pulls all these elements together on occasion, but for the most part it’s a different song, a different style, and that doesn’t work out as well. When it all comes together, as on “I Don’t Know…” it works wonders.
The production is decidedly lo-fi, but not to the point of distraction. It’s loud and mixed evenly, but there is a graininess from song #1 to song #9 and it conveys a fractured tone that fits well with the music.
Ultimately, though, the record is too inconsistent (an attribute I’ll give to much folk-punk, to keep that comparison going). The best songs show a ton of promise and really stand out, like “I Don’t Know A Thing About You” or “You Have A Beautiful Invoice,” but the more minimal songs lack in distinction and the songs where Nathan Martin has more scream than shout just don’t really cut it for me.
Posted May 26, 2015, 1:11 p.m.
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