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Halfway Joe – Hooligan Life

Halfway Joe
Hooligan Life
by Dave Nowels at 27 May 2020, 4:16 PM

HALFWAY JOE is a Hard Rock/AOR styled band hailing from Viitasaari, Finland. The original band formed back in 2013, having played together off and on in various Metal projects, that reportedly had a heavier approach. With the forming of HALFWAY JOE, it was decided to seek out a lighter style, and the band's first EP “Better?” was released in 2014, with their second EP “Wanna Know How?” becoming available in 2016. Then in 2017, preliminary work began on a full-length release. Recording began in 2018, and here in 2020, HALFWAY JOE have released “Hooligan Life”, an independent 11 track album, clocking in at 42 minutes.

Here's who the band lists as their interests on their Facebook page: ALTER BRIDGE, DANKO JONES, FFDP, FLYING COLORS, FOO FIGHTERS, JOE BONAMASSA, JOHNNY CASH, IRON MAIDEN, KOLMAS NAINEN, MEGADETH, TEXAS HIPPIE COALITION, and ZZ TOP. Confused yet? I still am, and I'm afraid that “Hooligan Life” does little to clear things up. Short of several of those bands being AOR (album oriented rock) staples, I really have a hard time locating any of these bands influencing what we have here on “Hooligan Life”. Essentially, HALFWAY JOE is shooting for that Heavy Rock radio sound, that ends up being more accessible for larger audiences, but seems to lose their own identity. Basically, we have a collection of lackluster tunes that never really take off.

Remember UGLY KID JOE? There's more similarities to be found than just a name. Hannula's vocals remind me a lot of Whitfield Crane's, just much less polished. Musically, things are okay, but there's nothing here that jumps out. The riff's are mediocre, the solos never really fire up, and the rhythm section just seems to plod along. If pressed to name a highlight, “Away From Home” might be the most ambitious song, but that may just be because it follows and exceedingly boring ballad in “Deficient”. Look, there's nothing really that terrible here, there's just nothing that really inspires confidence either.

It seems like it's been my lot in life lately to get a bunch of similar releases to review. Essentially a bunch of bands trying to sound like everyone else, perhaps thinking that's the method for success. It leaves me craving originality and innovation; a boldness to explore and be unique. HALFWAY JOE certainly doesn't check those boxes in any way for me. I hoped for more.

Songwriting: 5
Musicianship: 6
Memorability: 4
Production: 5

2 Star Rating

1. You Got No One
2. Drugsubmarine
3. Right On The Money
4. Hooligan Life
5. Cause
6. Glass Woman
7. Homeless
8. Three Beer Betty
9. Deficient
10. Away From Home
11. Leave It All Behind 
HP Hannula - Vocals
Jami Honkala - Guitar
Tuukka Tenhunen - Drums
Aki SaaksJarvi – Bass
Heikki Isoniemi – Guitars
Sakari Rossi – Guitar
Juho Monttinen – Bass

Record Label: Independent


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