I envision Warp artists playing in the dark. Looking back at other Warp acts I’ve seen over the years I’m reminded that they’ve all played from the unlit corners of the stage. Half the time I’m not even sure if they’re the act I’ve come to see. Tonight at the Ruby Lounge however, The Hundred In The Hands play in stark purple hues. Not so much steeped in mystery, but looking more like they’ve just stepped out of a Topshop shoot; adorned with fringes, white jeans and stripy black and white t-shirts.
You can’t help but feel a little sorry for the Brooklyn pair. Having travelled across the Atlantic and into the second night of their UK tour, a meagre 20 or so people have turned out to see them in the city they hold in high regard; it being home to the bands they hold dear.
The Hundred In The Hands certainly aren’t bad this evening. Vocalist Eleanore Everdell strikes me as being a little timid. Maybe it’s part of her coy indie starlet act. She’s got a few Karen O moves tucked away, but too often she’s reluctant to step out from behind her tiny synth. Meanwhile Jason Friedman is just there and I’m not sure if he even cares whether there’s an audience or not, which is great, but it’s Everdell’s role that needs more moxie if THITH (great acronym) are to coax reluctant audiences out of their timidity this evening.
The pace is erratic within a bracket of er…dancey-ness. While the speed determines exactly how we should move or bop or tap or stand around stroking our chins or gyrate awkwardly in the corner, the songs veer from catchy light electro-pop to, dare I say, filler. New songs – on offer from their self-titled debut due out in September – border on bland, and the obvious choice track for the next episode of Skins, ‘Tom Tom’ is omitted from the set. Annoying. Nevertheless, it’s a passable and enjoyable evening. Hopefully they’re finding their feet with British crowds. I don’t think you’re in Williamsburg Toto. Or something like that.
(Originally published on High Voltage)
I’ve heard good things regarding a raucous live show, so I jumped with fervent glee when this début from Leeds based threesome, Quack Quack fell through the door.
Omitting a winey front man can be a massive boon. Rather than layering your sonic masterpieces with wretched mewling, the real musician is free to survey realms of aural perfection, unhindered by emotional anchorage and blessed with the opportunity to explore the expansive plains of musical wonderment. I’m so sorry. How annoying it is then, when Quack Quack fail to embrace this possibility.
‘Perpetual Spinach’ creates a jejune, plodding and jovial opening, but it quickly becomes incidental. It pains me to say that so much of this album rests upon a crux of sluggishly dispensable nothingness. Due in part to slipshod organ lines that cut through a majority of tracks where drum and bass are criminally secondary, despite them adding bursts of excitement to otherwise tedious offerings.
Slow As An Eyeball isn’t bad, and while many tracks encompass a searching and expansive linear reach, it’s frequently frustrating and two-dimensional. ‘Big Sounds’ is excellent. A rolling drum beat ala Can, it has an engaging grasp, sharp abrasive attack, and changes that throw the track all over the shop. Likewise, ‘Slow As An Eyeball’ is brilliant. Unpolished brass gives it an early Mr. Bungle Disco Volante jazz feel. Unhinged, meandering with subtle hints of scuff and darkness where chirp has been the order of the day. You’re left thinking that tracks like these are where this album should be heading.
Elsewhere, Slow As An Eyeball just doesn’t take. ‘Toc H’ becomes infuriatingly repetitive, and features a collection of cheap and simplistic organ lines that often repeat ad-nauseam. It progresses slowly, and many of the tracks border on claustrophobic given their staid, albeit fun nature. ‘Cakes Are Easy’ shows promise, but soon slips into the realm of tiresome. ‘Bird Parliament’ has a moribund feel to it, occasionally breaking off into intermissions of what can only be described as 70s news music.
Imagine the disappointment when I was left feeling a little nonplussed when their apparent boisterousness failed to surface on CD. As Slow As An Eyeball is an enjoyable, if somewhat narrow first offering that fails to reach its full potential.
(Originally published on Muso’s Guide)