The Record Lounge: Reviews 08/11/2010 – The House Harkonnen, Dawes, White Hills

The House Harkonnen – Vol. 6

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Volume 6 is the sixth (!) album from one of Arlington’s unjustly best kept secrets. Founded on 2003, they have been toiling around in between Dallas and Forth Worth honing their craft, and are, in the past year or so, getting some exposure around town. Or at least to me. I’ve had a friend who has been touting these guys to me for a few months now, the same way in which he touted Denton’s Riverboat Gamblers to me for years.  And he was right on both occasions.

The 2009 release, Vol. 6, is a sonic wall of punk driven metal. If you take High On Fire, Fu Manchu, Buzzo*ven, Motorhead, Alabama Thunderpussy, The Sword and Dixie Witch, wrap them up with the dueling guitars of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal’s influence on early Metallica, you get some sort of feel for what The House Harkonnen represents.

The opener “Let Me Get To The Point” does just that, letting the listener know exactly what the band is about. Without skipping a beat or the listener even noticing, you are deep into the second cut, “The Knife”. Two songs in, and you know you are deep in a forcible juggernaut. That’s how you start a record -don’t let your audience breathe, go for the kill early, and hook them in.

And it doesn’t let up. “Electrinator” comes at you without warning fueled by punk driven metal riffs, on “Silo Town U.S.A.”, Alex Johnson’s ravaged vocals hurt YOUR throat, and continues on through until the final songs on the record, the brutally beautiful sonic structure of the instrumental “The Stanford Torus” and the bludgeoning final track, “Tough F*cking News”.

At this point you try to collect your thoughts, because you’ve been through the ringer. 8 songs in 28:17 on a record that doesn’t let up until the end.

And then you start it over again, and you will.

Watch for these guys, seriously. They have 5 records before this one that I need to get my hands on, and believe me, I shall.

Dawes – North Hills

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There used to be a time when if you saw someone was on a particular record label, you could tell if you were going to like them. This was particularly correct in the 80’s with Sire, or in the late 80’s/90’s Sub Pop, or Amphetamine Reptile Records. Unfortunately, this is rarely ever the case anymore.

California’s Dawes latest release, North Hills, is on Dave Matthews record label, ATO, which is home to such artists as Ben Kweller, and Kentucky’s indie faves, My Morning Jacket. North Hills is an easily palatable rock record. With a very easy-going nature to the recording, it can be put on in almost any situation, or every situation, and you are sure not to offend anyone. It is a pleasant stroll through blues based rock, soul and gospel, and a good record.

Unfortunately, I saw these guys before I heard the record. And either their producer took all the fight out of them, or they’ve been on the road for quite some time, and these songs have taken on a larger identity after being road tested. Regardless, the live energy of the band does not come through on the recording. Which is a disappointment.

All of these tracks popped out at you live with an intensity I honestly did not expect. One of my live favorites, “When My Time Comes” explodes through the sound system live, yet recorded does not capture the raw emotion and engaging delivery of the live show.

Again, and do not get me wrong, this is a good record, and I like the band quite a bit. But, I would definitely suggest getting the record first, then experiencing them live, because you WILL be blown away at the live offering.

White Hills – White Hills

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With 12 releases to their name since 2005 (mainly limited edition show only CD-R’s), New York’s White Hills offer a blinding mix of psychedelic stoner rock swirl that will surely make your head swim. The second release for respected indie label Thrill Jockey, White Hills, is a throwback to the late 60’s, early 70’s sound so many are trying to capture at this time and place. Their shower of guitars and rhythms make this one of the must-own albums of the year.

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~ by thesynaptic on August 11, 2010.

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