First off, I have to say, "wow." This is really on Saddle Creek? That is totally unexpected. Being unfamiliar with what Ladyfinger (ne) is capable of musically, I am totally surprised. Heavy Hands is the debut album from these guys. It is a more than interesting offering by the description that I have been given for them. Most people have compared them in some way or another to The Jesus Lizard.
Right from the start, "Smuggler" lays down an infectious rhythm. The musical arrangement pulses and hums to an unconventional but still kind of familiar beat. The vocals take a bit of getting used to, as they are different, very different. Still, the music almost forces the listener to tap their toes. There is an interlocking relationship between the vocals and the instrumentation. "Sea Legs" has a vocal section that is almost spoken word. It works with the track well. The music is extremely consistent with that in other songs on the album. "Cause of Shame" continues to utilize this "spoken word" style of vocals. I kind of wish that there was more noise on Heavy Hands, but from start to finish the record seems to reign in "imperfect" sound.
Ladyfinger (ne) creates an interesting juxtaposition with the interplay between the tight rhythm section and the vocal style. The energy is there. The music definitely has a kind of Jesus Lizard-like quality, but the vocals sound like some kind of toned-down metal. For some reason I keep hearing the guy singing for a low quality Iron Maiden tribute band and it is tough to get that image out of my head. It is very hard to get used to this aspect of the band. Whatever the sound is, there is energy, but not enough to make the album very interesting.
Yes, the music has a couple of good points. The rhythms are pretty good. The arrangements are pretty solid. But for the most part Heavy Hands is rather unimpressive. It is a real let down as I was kind of excited by the comparison to The Jesus Lizard. But, Ladyfinger (ne) lacks the innovative quality and visceral power that The Jesus Lizard had.
3.5 / 10
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