I've yet to hear 'the first great album of the year' or 'the second' for that matter, so it's with a clear conscience and complete disregard for continuity that I give the first great album of the year title to Vancouver's Ladyhawk and their great album - Shots.
OK, so it's nearly April and I'm not listening to as much new music as I used to. Partly because of various grown-up commitments and partly because there's just too much new music out there. For someone who used to base his musical jumps into the unknown on an appearance in a trusted band's Thank You list (or failing that usually buying anything on Sub Pop) - the alternative music choice in 2008 can be quite overwhelming.
An old-school rock band then, with guitars bass and drums - that stand and fall by the quality of the songs rather than a quirky hook, look or attitude, is to this cynic, a 21st century blessing. In this respect, I suppose Shots shares more in common with Black Mountain, than Vampire Weekend. Little surprise perhaps, as Ladyhawk share a label with their fellow Canadians.
Recorded in an abandoned farmhouse, over a booze-fuelled two weeks, Shots is the soundtrack to one of the great parties. Rocking hard in places, edgy and introspective in others, it's a party that could spiral out of control at any minute, but one you definitely don't want to leave. Like Neil Young and his honeyslide powered On The Beach, Shots really captures the mood of its recording.
I Don't Always Know What You're Saying kicks things off and sets the mood; with a reverbed and fuzzy production that sounds exactly like it was recorded in a booze-fuelled abandoned farmhouse. S.T.H.D., Fear and Corpse Paint, maintain the tempo - dark, edgy, rocking. Before they slow it down for a couple of tracks, I'll Be Your Ashtray calls to mind yet more fellow Canadian's - Magnolia Electric Company (“I'll be your ashtray. Because I only want to feel you burning.”) whilst Faces of Death carries the melancholic air of too much whiskey.
But before getting too down, the party kicks off again with Night, You're Beautiful a self-explanatory title that could neatly sum-up Shots. You get the idea that Ladyhawk love the night - not in a whitefaced-Gothic kind of way, more that all the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll is going on after hours ( “Darkness you touch my soul. And you fill my heart. And you make me burn when we're apart”) They love the night so much, they even include a few “do-do-do” backing vocals amongst the sludge guitars.
And what better way to round all that off than with an eleven minute epic. Ghost Blues is in no hurry to get anywhere, and even lulls you into thinking that they've succumbed to a bit of self-indulgence. Then, around the 6 minute mark, the band let out a mighty Primal Scream; a call round a campfire for a higher spirit to take them home, probably a call to the Pagan God of Awesome Parties - whose number, without doubt, is in Ladyhawk's favourites.
A. Great. Album.
25th Mar 2008 - Tumblr4
Borderline, London October 1st 2008
Decent Aussie surf drama, that nostalgically investigates the soul of surfing before losing i… https://t.co/qW3B55bCcG.
14th Aug 2019Read more star reviews
Somewhat unremarkable, but enjoyable music drama. Bit long.
13th Jul 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Predictably grim seaside coming-of-age indie. Decent enough, but you’ve seen it before
13th Jul 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Stylish sequel, hampered in places by some authentic 1960s pacing.
30th Jun 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Out-there kids fable with an old school Tim Burton vibe.
16th Jun 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Rock solid 90s style indie movie. Beautifully assembled at all levels.
31st May 2019Read more 4 star reviews
Fairly one-sided Police doc about the seemingly dislikeable trio.
7th May 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
Decent, but slightly muddled parenting indie.
28th Apr 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Forgettable re-imagining of a not totally unforgettable Disney classic.
27th Apr 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Solid stop-motion animation that’s light on plot, but high on charm.
12th Apr 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
Surprisingly stylish sequel that drops the ball in classic straight-to-VHS style halfway through.
6th Apr 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Opaque Alaskan thriller from Jeremy Saulnier, with little regard for convention.
1st Apr 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Low key indie spin on Rambo, as a father and daughter try and live off grid.
28th Mar 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Fun biopic that runs out of steam about when the band did.
25th Mar 2019Read more 3 star reviews
A diminished remake of Deadpool 1. Occasional LOLs.
25th Mar 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
High concept sci-fi that stretches its concept a little thin.
19th Mar 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Unremarkable, cliche-ridden actioner. Utterly lacking in suspense.
17th Mar 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
A disjointed patchwork of homages, nods and rip offs from dozens of other movies, with little to offer of its own.
11th Mar 2019Read more 2 star reviews
Laborious, high-concept alien horror. While the concept is good, the beats are all well telegraphed.
2nd Mar 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Witty, if a little obvious, post-meta rom-com.
1st Mar 2019Read more 3 star reviews
The Second Part
It’s literally a re-hash of all the themes of the first one with a few less jokes.
23rd Feb 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Slight, but sometime engaging iPhone feature.
26th Jan 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Decent modern spin on Mary Poppins. Bit uneven, but a nice soundtrack helps things along.
20th Jan 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Bog standard entry into The-Rock-action-movie genre. As much personality as a computer game.
3rd Jan 2019Read more 3 star reviews
This time it’s really, really serious. Seriously.
27th Dec 2018Read more 3 star reviews
It’s a musical ...but slick direction makes it just about bearable.
24th Dec 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Pop-culture bouillabaisse, hampered by numerous terrible accents.
24th Dec 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Pacey, emotional, old-fashioned indie pic. Beautifully observed.
15th Dec 2018Read more 4 star reviews
Surprisingly underwhelming biopic that doesn’t find its feet until 20m from the end.
24th Nov 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Utterly derivative / thoroughly enjoyable ‘Heat’ rip off.
21st Nov 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Well crafted character study, with some nice touches.
10th Nov 2018Read more 4 star reviews
Brutal revenge thriller. Stylish and violent, with plenty of explanation left to the imagination.
4th Nov 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Intense indie drama from Netflix. Impeccably acted and directed.
27th Oct 2018Read more 4 star reviews
Disappointingly unoriginal superhero movie, complete with dull CGI action.
27th Oct 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Continually clichéd rock romance that never breaks into originality.
13th Oct 2018Read more 1.5 star reviews
Dry Morrissey biopic that gets arty by avoiding using any Smiths songs.
7th Oct 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Decent rehash of vintage indie movie tropes.
7th Oct 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Mumblingly wordy western that’s big on self-importance and low on drama and tension.
25th Sep 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Muddled biopic with occasional moments of eccentric comedy madness.
22nd Sep 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Like a long episode of Girls that’s all about one of the more boring characters.
16th Sep 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Slightly confused slice of post-Michael Mann LA crime.
7th Sep 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Sympathetic retread of Single White Female, with added #hashtags.
26th Aug 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Welcome to the Jungle
Fun updated reboot with added Breakfast Club.
26th Aug 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Low-tide mark for super hero movies. I only finished watching to see how bad it could get.
14th Aug 2018Read more 1 star reviews
It’s a cover version of every other Mallick pic, but the setting is inspired and the improv from Gosling is enjoyably enthusiastic.
8th Aug 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Well written, well paced sequel. Surprisingly competent and heartwarming.
4th Aug 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
70s pot boiler that lazily meanders through a series of mediocre set pieces.
23rd Jul 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Enjoyable change of pace for the super hero genre. Comedy wins.
21st Jul 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Great concept, but shoddily directed and utterly devoid of jeopardy.
17th Jul 2018Read more 2 star reviews