Wednesday, January 16

Ladyhawk Fights for Anarchy

Artist: Ladyhawk
Album: Fight for Anarchy EP

Comments: When we last left our friends in Ladyhawk, they were coming off a successful tour with indie-upstarts Tapes n’ Tapes. The four dudes from Vancouver, Canada were playing tracks off their ’06 self-titled freshman release, an album ripe with catchy melodies and powerful guitar work in the vein of Neil Young and Stephen Malkmus.

Now, a year later, those dastardly fellas in Ladyhawk are back with the Fight for Anarchy EP, a record that seems promise growth, but may also hint at regression.

(Before the actual review: I think the title of the EP is really stupid. Fight for Anarchy is the kind of name you expect your little brother’s crust-punk band to have. You wouldn't expect it from group of southern-influenced booze rockers like Ladyhawk.)

Silly name aside, things get of on the right foot with “War,” the opening track. Fans of the band will notice right away how much more production has gone into this EP than into their full length. Pianos, feedback, sharper vocals and nameless guitar squeals swirl around the song, which is a catchy pop rock song featuring more of Ladyhawk’s trademark hookmaking. “Don’t just tag along / start a war if you want to,” sings Duffy Driediger, and while the tune might not illicit the action intended, it’s still a good number number.

Following that is “If You Run,” which is a psychedelic rocker that sounds like it was produced inside of a trashcan. It has the same far away feel and swirling noise of “War,” but I can’t help but feel that this would sound better with less noise behind it.

The songs after make up the meat of the EP. The first, titled “Boy, You Got Another Thing Coming” is a big step forward for the band. This slow ballad is the kind that, on previous Ladyhawk releases, would probably sound sloppy and overdone, trying to weave massive guitar licks where they don’t belong.

On Fight for Anarchy, however, the band sounds somber and restrained, introducing violins and minimal brush drums before lapsing into the a sorrowful (and fitting) guitar solo that takes a page straight from Harvest Moon. It’s a fitting lick, and it plays off the “sad drunk” feel of the song perfectly.

What follows is “Red Teeth,” which soudns like a song that could have been on Ladyhawk. It’s another slow tune, but while “Boy, You Got Another Thing Coming” sounds like a drunk sitting at a bar, “Red Teeth” is the kind of song a cowboy would play riding into a gunfight he knows he will lose. A little less focused and a little more sloppy, it will come as a comfort to older Ladyhawk fans.

I find elements of this EP very encouraging. The band seems to have figured out how to write a ballad properly, by giving it room to develop instead of trying to bash through it. However, the growing use of psychedelic elements and clouds of noise is a bit discouraging. And the lack of any out-and-out rock songs like “The Dugout” or “My Old Jackknife” is kind of lame.

I’ll have to wait until March (when the group's second LP comes out) to see what the outcome will be. In the meantime, Fight for Anarchy is pretty much a standard EP; it will build interest and holds one or two really good songs, but it won’t stick.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Key Tracks: War, Boy You Got Another Thing Coming

Buy, Steal, Skip: My love for the band say "buy," but my gut says "steal." Ladyhawk is not some big, U2-type band that's making money hand over fist. Fans of southern rock or Neil Young should buy this. As for the rest of you, do the right thing.

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