On a quick listen, Ladyhawk's sophomore effort Shots (Jagjaguwar) proves a boozy, fuzzy guitar-and-bass drenched record with a few catchy hooks--a perfect album for that indie rock bar in a small college town. A four-piece out of Vancouver, B.C., Ladyhawk's sound references in equal parts '70s country rock in the vein of Neil Young and early '90s garage band sound a la Dinosaur Jr. Comparisons to contemporaries lead to labelmates Black Mountain and Sunset Rubdown.
But to dismiss Ladyhawk as a band that simply melds influences wouldn't be fair. Sure, Duffy Driediger's lead vocals are indistinct at times, but there are moments where an emotional rawness peeks through, and it's this raw energy that fuels Shots, which was recorded over two weeks in an abandoned barn.
The glaringly fast "S.T.H.D" is all about splattered guitar and a chorus of fuzziness and shouts, a song played by four guys having a rocking good time. Following track "Fear" goes a little down-tempo for a hip swaying, rockabilly tinged anthem. A moody "Night You're Beautiful" brings in background singers that could have been singing along with Lou Reed's "Walk On the Wild Side," until the vocals drop out for over a minute of high octane jams.
These sorts of juxtapositions appear in nearly every track along with dramatic tempo and dynamic shifts that keep the listening experience interesting. Just when a theme seems to be lingering too long, Ladyhawk shifts it up.
Final track "Ghost Blues" clocks in at over 10 minutes, over twice as long as any of the other cuts. As noted in the title, the song begins as a slow blues rock ditty. About three-and-a-half minutes in, the song builds, with a swell of backing vocals that lead into a more free-flowing song. The vocals then drop out to let the guitars, bass, and drum quietly feed off each other, building until a wailing Driediger steps back in, backed again with a yelling chorus, which leads to a freeform jazz session that ebbs and flows, then shifts to a more angular territory, until shifting back into a more organic fuzziness trailing into silence.
While Shots may not prove revelatory, it's definitely a rollicking good time and a document of a band just beginning to find its place in the world.
"we need not a glockenspiel" - let's ask Sean:
CB: What hopes do you have for the band in 2007?
SH: Get a lot of shit done. Release an EP. Record another full length. Tour a shit load. Meet rad people. Party good times.