Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hammer No More the Fingers - s/t

It's a touch disappointing to report that most available reviews on Hammer No More the Fingers have somewhat exhausted any crucial info available on the album's one sheet, refraining from expanding any further. According to the average HNMTF review and snatched from said one sheet, in brief:

Hammer No More the Fingers is a three-piece from North Carolina that began in 1994 as a group of 10-year olds playing original songs, save for an Archers of Loaf cover. Their current lineup was finalized in December 2006. They sound like Archers of Loaf and Superchunk.

That aside, it's with some irony that a band like this can sound refreshing, a throwback to mid-1990s alternative rock and yet a standout act at a time when “indie rock” is often afraid of appearing too informal or too rugged. It may be that mainstream pop has become one giant MySpace page, but on the alternate end of things, we're a politically correct bunch, we of the independent and rock worlds. Talent or no, I'm tired of looking at men in skinny jeans and bangs, even if it's the man's way of giving equal opportunity to femininity; I'm tired of songs with promising intros that make way for voices reaching near-Castrati territory; I'm tired of elegance and strings in rock, if only because the mask of aristocracy is now a cliché.

After predicting this past summer that bands like Pissed Jeans would eventually take over the independent rock scene and resurrect the manly '90s era that was grunge, I'm happy to say that HNMTF, while not nearly the epitome of crass masculinity, is a baby step back toward that direction. In truth, it is alternative-rock that recalls a time when “alternative” was a genre, much as “indie” is now. It's for fans of those bare-bones '90s groups like Superchunk, even indie rock purists who relished the birth of Pavement, and boasts an unpretentious, sparse style that could only come from a guitar-bass-drum trio of boys who'd picked up their instruments as 10-year olds, excited about recent album purchases.

Hammer No More the Fingers is neither sophisticated nor inventive, though they are also neither too dignified nor too boorish, for those who tire of extremes. All songs on this seven-track EP hover around “agreeable” in sound, avoiding downer moments and high climaxes alike. But where this detail gets interesting is with respect to the band's lyrics, which hop from sympathizing with the homeless (“Fall Down, Play Dead”) to narrating a mushroom addiction (“Mushrooms”). The latter in particular offers unexpected humor: “I got mushrooms[...]they're pretty fucking tasty[...]They grow and grow/like my consciousness of space and time.” Rather freshman year, no? In any case, the lyrical content is a kick because the music alongside it does nothing to convey what's being said – no song here sounds like its message, meaning you're left with a story to listen for and a catchy song that can sneak past any shallow ears which otherwise dread preachy messages or dumbed-down tales of youth. This breaks no new ground, and it doesn't particularly stick, but this average rock band leaves no room for irritating details, making average a strangely invigorating trait.

Hammer No More the Fingers – Bossman

Hammer No More the Fingers – Fall Down, Play Dead

Purchase Hammer No More the Fingers

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