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Hammerhands – Model Citizen

Model Citizen
by Dave Nowels at 13 August 2019, 4:12 PM

HAMMERHANDS are four dudes making loud music in suburbia.  Mississauga, Ontario to be specific. The loud music would specifically be a fairly unique blend of what I would call abstract sludge. The band's Facebook page specifies it as, SludgeMetal/Noise Rock/Sludge Noise, so which ever way you want to see it, I think we've got it covered pretty accurately. HAMMERHANDS formed back in 1995, and in 2013 released the monstrous “Glaciers”, and then followed up with an EP of covers titled “1995”, and then their second full-length, “Largo Forte”. Thus, “Model Citizen” is their third full-length and our current subject.

Think “Bone Machine” era TOM WAITS meets CROWBAR, meets NICK CAVE. It's eclectic, innovative, and fucking heavy. Mind numbing heavy, but also the kind of heavy filled with nuance after nuance. There's a sly wickedness at work here, a fascinating fusion of influences that work exceptionally well despite not really seeming mixable at first glance. The album kicks off with a funky bass and drum laden beginning with “Pleasure Island”, before building atmosphere and really launching to another level with the Sludge fueled guitar solo. “MAXIMUM Beta” picks up right were the previous left off, again with a low end focus, but this time with a more direct attack vocal and minor chord guitar. Of the fist few cuts, “MAXIMUM Beta” and “Do It Right” are my highlights. Similar, yet distinctly different.

The first curve ball is “Too Many Rivers” not only with it's Waits/Cave styled vocal, but also the musical smartness of those two legends. Dark, sinister and just about perfect. “Too Many Rivers” was my favorite track by far. “Dad Sludge” was a close second, with it's focus full on Sludge/Fuzz guitar and ominous vocals. “That Awful Sound” pulls away the fuzz for the most part, and like “Too Many Rivers” takes a different path, yet remains familiar and comfortable with the album as a collection. “Not in the Cards” might as be a funky bluesy ballad, one that creates a fitting contradiction to the album's closer “Bastard Jesus”. The build up of this final track is imaginative, fun and fascinating, and the meat of the song carries an element of emotional intensity. It's really a beautiful song.

HAMMERHANDS have created a moody, rewarding piece of abstract art with “Model Citizen”. It may not resonate with everyone, but what stunning art does? In the world of jazz, fusion jazz kind of gets the bastard child treatment by a lot of purists. Doesn't mean the music isn't meaningful, just that some can't show appreciation for it. Consider HAMMERHANDS an aspiring Miles Davis, taking Sludge into the fusion era, whether it's ready to go or not. It could definitely be an interesting ride.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Pleasure Island
3. Do It Right
4. I'm Not Here
5. Too Many Rivers
6. Dad Sludge
7. That Awful Sound
8. Not in the Cards
9. Bastard Jesus
NJ Borreta – Guitar, Vocals
Collin Young – Guitar, Vocals
Jon Galletly - Drums
Justin Hunt - Bass 
Record Label: Independent


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