Hook & Anchor

Hook & Anchor

Written by: BW on 01/08/2014 23:26:04

There’s a lovely thing about Americana styled rock music and that is that it has an ability to cross a lot of levels of our genre and be liked by a large amount of people, especially if you’re in a mellow mood. Hook & Anchor haven’t released anything at all up to this point and their debut album is self titled, not to mention well filled. In it we have twelve songs of pure Southern style and it certainly has a reputation to build, as is that not what first albums usually do?

When “Famously Easy” starts off you do get a feeling of a mix up between your generic country and western styles and a hint of Fleetwood Mac, with Kati Claborn bringing through some smooth vocals on a nice track, with some standard drum beats and some wonderfully slack and truly emotion-filling pedal steel guitar work from Erik Clampitt. It is a nice, simple start with some extras to change it from just being something that could blend in with anything else.

“Wild Wind” changes tempo and goes a little more upbeat, but still retains that deep south feeling with some banjo work interwoven with the fast paced drums, and there are some instances where you can feel that there is a balance in the album as a whole. When you listen to this you feel a happy vibe throughout, compared to the more serious and morose first track and this is always a good thing to keep the listener’s interest peaked.

If you look for a traditional country song then may I hint towards “Concerning Spectral Pinching” as the introduction is incredibly stereotypical, but that is what you’d expect from an album drenched in the Americana way. After the initial verse it kicks into a faster pace, but still retains that almost Johnny Cash styled tune. There is maybe a little more electric guitar than the original man in black, but it certainly allows for a toe tap here and there just as it is.

The next song drops more or less everything involving a plug and feels very earthy because of it. The vocals are decent in most cases, but it is when the harmonies come through you feel that this is a band that have maybe not released albums over any time, but they have played a lot together, which shows. It screams traditional country, if truth be told, and I could see this playing in the background of one of those US dramas where the two lovers in the show are about to dance at the end and they need the right song for it. Most people that watched things like Dawson’s Creek or Smallville will know what I mean.

“No, it’s Not” is a good song and one I like more than most on the album. The drums can be basic in some songs, but on here they are deservedly primitive. It adds an effect which stirs the blood, in that it is just the same beat all the way through with some occasional tambourine hits thrown through it. At one point it drops down to two voices and an organ that I can only associate with Deep Purple, as they were the first real band to get away with the instrument frequently on a mainstream arena. This is another piece of evidence that proves the album is balanced, providing a really dark and as I’ve said already, earthy piece of music.

The next song is “Hammer” and when you hear it, it can be related best to the classic “Down to the River to Pray” which Alison Krauss sang and was included in the intro to the movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?. It is a simple tune made up of choral work and piano, which may not exactly be to the taste of many who frequent this site, but as a piece of music it does what those ingredients would make of it. May well be a filler in most cases, but some may think differently.

The rest of the album is pretty much leaning more towards traditional country and western to be honest, with songs like “Tomorrow Night”, “Hazel Dell”, bonus track “Rock Salt and Nails” and “Fine Old Times” that more or less fit into the generic thoughts you would have for this particular genre of music. They would be the songs you would have to be more a fan of the band than most (including me, to be fair) to get the most out of. “Hard Times” has a catchy mood and more pedal steel going through it, which to me always makes me think of Dire Straits when they did the “On Every Street” album. “Blackbird” really does have a whole Fleetwood Mac quality about it. It even feels like there is a slight 70’s throwback on it too, which I really like. It is a nice way to top the album off.

I know what you’re probably thinking; this isn’t really a rock album. In that instance you would be right, but my mind is in a way of going along with things that can expand our musical horizons or at least give us something else to have an emotional feeling to. Sometimes that can even refresh our senses when we go back to whatever Rock and/or Metal we call our own.

Hook & Anchor have crafted a solid first album, which does lean more towards country than what a lot of us would like, but the songs that ARE more open to our way of hearing things do so reasonably well. It is a nice, middle of the road album, which due to the fact we are where we are will get a middle of the road score. If you feel brave enough, give it a listen. Failing that, I’m sure something more like what you’re used to will be just around the corner.


Download: Blackbird, Wild Wind, Famously Easy
For The Fans Of: Fleetwood Mac, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Johnny Cash
Listen: facebook.com

Release date 22.07.2014
Jealous Butcher/Woodphone Records

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