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Life on the road will play havoc with your head. If anyone can vouch for that it’s Canadian garage outfit Hooded Fang. Coming over like a spate of incurable sleep paralysis where fantasy and reality meet, the band’s unreal tour bus lifestyle is revealed through Gravez – their equally mind-bending new album.
‘We’ve been to the moon and back. There were really amazing times and really rough times,’ reveals bassist April Aliermo. ‘We ate crocodile balls, slept on floors and couches, watched TV and movies, and looked out the window in between. All this steady instability must have influenced Gravez.’
Seamlessly following on from last LP, Tosta Mista, the new record is a continuation of the spontaneous, lively, heavily splintered guitar sound that has secured Hooded Fang as high flyers on The Hype Machine and nominees for Canadian Mercury equivalent, the Polaris Prize. Yet whereas Tosta Mista was a danceable take on real life’s ups and downs, Gravez is a skewed, off-the-wall piece of moving punk pop fiction blurring the boundaries between what’s real and fake, each track powering along like an interstellar joyride through The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
If ever a band were to have a Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds moment, this is it. Ode To Subterrania comes over like a West Coast War of the Worlds and baselines reverb like a rubber band through the Tarantino soundtrack style of Sailor Bull. Wasteland tips a hat to The Black Lips if they played 1960s tropicalia while the bluesy slant of Genes recalls a more lethargic The Bees. The sinister Trasher sounds like each band member smearing their face in green for their own Halloween Party celebrations – albeit a good four months premature. Altogether wrapped up in 30 minutes dead; this is a group who know there’s nothing to be gained for labouring the point.
Joining Dan, Hooded Fang are April Aliermo (bass), Lane Halley (guitar), and D.Alex Meeks (drums). That the group even had time to write, let alone record a brand new record is a surprise. Aside from main band duties they continue to play in numerous side-projects, run a label (Daps Records) and work at April’s artist-led playschool, giving kids music lessons as well as putting on a host of all-ages shows.
‘A brilliant hybrid of Dick Dale-style surf guitar, psychedelic / beat group / go-go tunes and ‘Nuggets garage attitude – then rejigged it for Strokes and Shins attuned ears’ – Time Out
‘The Jesus And The Mary Chain in surf shirts’ – Uncut