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Album Review: HAWK – She Knows EP

 
By on Monday, 27th March 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

The Cranberries, starring frontwoman Dolores O’Riordan, were a fairly successful Irish band during their peak, even though their protest song ‘Zombie’ undeniably accounted for the majority of their success. However, that was the mid-Nineties and since then, the burgeoning breed of female fronted alt-rock bands have continued to sprout, bringing their edgy guitar music and thoughtful lyrics to the forefront.

HAWK are one within this category that somehow seem to differ slightly in their direction, although it seems hard to believe when you see pictures of a four-piece rock band fronted by a small female with a blonde crop cut. The London-based alt-rock outfit have just released their third EP ‘She Knows’ via Veta Records. The EP presents a darker tonality in comparison to their earlier work, yet still maintains the beauty and grace that disguises their confrontational lyrical themes addressing bigotry and discrimination witnessed in every day living.

‘She Knows’ includes 5 equally expressive songs, each with its own personality, glued together by dreamlike soundscapes. The EP opener and aptly titled ‘Intro’ drops us right in the centre of HAWK’s power. Deep pulsating drones, lightly layered with ethereal vocal samples and haunting violins gradually build before an immense wall of sound crashes down onto us following the frail strum of guitar chords. ‘Intro’ seamlsessly bleeds into track two, ‘Take It Away’, which conveys similar message to that of Alice in Wonderland. The lyrics to the chorus “I need to sleep in the dark, before you take it away” suggests a feeling of paranoia, but with an added aspect of fear indicated by the heavily crunchy guitar chords.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKhfWhdVF5A[/youtube]

As the EP pushes on into tracks 3 and 4 ‘Static’ and ‘Mirror Maze’, we experience a new burst of life from HAWK. The drums become more driven, the guitars drop into the background and support the top line, and Hough’s vocal approach becomes a lot more melodic, opening up her range and developing her projection. ‘Static’, for example, is based on two melodic phrases, one on each guitar and vocals that repeats and develops as the song progresses. Without any clear indication to the change in sections, the listener is kept intrigued as the guitar and voice share these melodies, creating an enticing blend of the two. ‘Mirror Maze’ takes a much more direct approach in that every aspect of the music has a clearly defined part that excellently accompanies each other perfectly, yet are equally as strong in isolation.

EP closer ‘Ghost’ is an excellent example of the power behind Julie Hough’s voice. Matthew Harris’ guitar parts also take somewhat of a lead role, hinting at the subsequent vocal melody, which only enters intentionally after the 1-minute mark. Hough’s vocal phrases throughout the verse are light and short. However, it isn’t the melody that engages the most, it’s the climax point in ‘Ghost’ each time the chorus breaks that pulls you in. Each time, we are hit with a wall of sound similar to that experienced in ‘Intro’, except with a much more progressive guitar riff, and a more solid, steady groove. Hough’s celestial yet visceral vocals pierce through the wall of sound with the perfect amount of vibrato and attitude that send shivers down your spine. Just one note over the top of the whole band acts perfectly as the cement of the sound whilst equally sharing the role of a top line with the guitar.

Within this short surreal journey of just 5 songs, HAWK provide an excellent blend of dark, melodic rock with elements of dream pop. They create a sound so heavy and visceral, yet simultaneously so light and enchanting that makes you feel like you’re walking on clouds while watching the apocalypse unravel underfoot.

8/10

HAWK’s new EP ‘She Knows’ is out now on Veta Records. Catch them during their short Irish tour, which you can find the dates for here.

 

Hard Working Class Heroes 2016: Day 1 evening roundup (part 1)

 
By on Monday, 17th October 2016 at 1:00 pm
 

With my first afternoon at Hard Working Class Heroes out of the way – feel free to catch up with part 1 and part 2 – it was time for my first evening at the emerging Irish artist music festival. The Chocolate Factory was a good shout for all 3 days, as it was pretty much one-stop shopping: two stages of music, with acts taking turns to grab the crowd’s attention.

Yonen (Dublin) @ Chocolate Factory Stage 2

Yonen HWCH 2016

Interested in an instrumental rock onslaught reminiscent of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Mogwai? Then locals Yonen will be your poison. They say on their Bandcamp “we want to tell you a story by making noise.” If we are to take them on their word, a book written by Yonen would be filled with both epic tales and considered, softer, slower numbers. I appreciated the latter, as it was proof that they’re not entirely about beating your brain into a bloody pulp. Thinkers are they.

aYIA (Reykjavik, Iceland) @ Chocolate Factory Stage 1

aYia HWCH 2016

2016 is the first year of a 3-year project Hard Working Class Heroes is working on to bridge the big physical distance between Ireland and Iceland by helping build audiences each other’s acts. aYia was one of two acts from the volcano-laden country to play at the Dublin festival, raring to go following the exit of Yonen. The stage was weirdly well above our heads, requiring punters to crane their necks upwards to watch.

This strange position of the stage caused their female leader singer to crouch down and as close to the ground of the stage as possible. In a breathy singing style like her famous countrywoman Bjork, she was the focal point of their performance. With a sinister electro edge full of buzzing and darkness, it’s a foreboding sound, especially considering the long evenings only lit by twilight from where this music was made. There’s a lot of competition in this genre, so only time will tell whether they’ll be able to break out of the pack.

Search Party Animal (Dublin) @ Workman’s Club

Search Party Animal HWCH 2016

Formerly known under the name Bagels, Search Party Animal have rechristened themselves after a song by Belfast band And So I Watch You From Afar to prevent any confusion with the New York food specialty. A band name with the word ‘animal’ in it is appropriate for this group: crazy, loud, raucous – all members banging on drums at one point – and a whole lot of fun. At home, they sounded tighter than I witnessed at CMW 2016, which suggests they’ll be a force to be reckoned with as they go forward and the day comes that they break out of Ireland.

Hawk (London via Ireland) @ Workman’s Club

Hawk HWCH 2016

Post punks Hawk have already made a name for themselves in their base of London, as well as in Dublin, if the fans assembled for their appearance at Hard Working Class Heroes Thursday night was any indication. Frontwoman Julie Hawk has a deceptively sweet voice than can turn into a wailing scream at a moment’s notice. Premiered recently on The Line of Best Fit, who describes them as a “gothic pop” group, she describes their newest single ‘Mirror Maze’ as their attempt to bring attention to female body image issues and destructive societal pressures.

Video Blue (London via Dublin and Dundalk) @ Tengu Upstairs

Video Blue HWCH 2016

Coming to Ireland, I think I had an entirely reasonable expectation that many of the acts I’d be faced with at Hard Working Class Heroes would be a single man or woman playing a guitar. Irish born and raised but now London transplant Jim O’Donoghue Martin went beyond that conventional mould. He played early at Tengu Yamamori, just north of the river, where the upstairs stage was used to host to a host of interesting electronic acts and Martin was no exception.

I feel like his music isn’t compelling enough to grab your attention in a dark club but you can hear it soundtracking a tv advert or film. Maybe it has to do with him having to be so busy on his various controllers while also singing and playing guitar, so maybe this would work better if he had a band behind him?

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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