Best-of ’10:: Hooded Fang self-titled LP

It’s not often that a band generates a healthy amount of buzz and still takes the time to create a solid record instead of just recording sketches and unfinished thoughts. Honestly, I wish it happened more often. Bands need to slow down and realize a “sound” is developed by gigging and putting in the hours, not just driving home a chord progression you iron out on the couch. Sadly it’s getting to the point where that crucial element of progression is being overlooked and often hurting musicians’ output.


For Toronto septet, Hooded Fang, the two years between the release of a stellar EP and their debut, self-titled LP may seem like eons, but it was the best decision they could have made. Sure, casual fans that took interest in the pop nuggets Hooded Fang delivered may have long since forgotten the band’s potential, but having the patience required to flesh out verses and complete thoughts and emotions certainly helps the youngsters stand out from the countless other outfits sampling from the same inspiration.


You can still hear the influence of The Magnetic Fields (mostly due to Daniel’s delivery), The Strokes and Belle & Sebastien, but instead of young kids emulating successful acts, Hooded Fang meld horns, synths and baritone male vocals with ear pleasing female harmonies into their own sound, one that certainly warrants the flattering comparisons. I hesitate to call this album a maturation; the septet already sounded wise beyond their years on their debut EP, but these meticulous arrangements feel weightless and remarkably spontaneous. More importantly, in an age where sound quality is seems less of a requirement and more of an annoyance, the band leverages every ounce of fidelity their home studio has to offer.


The songs are laced with nostalgia and love, but surprisingly, the overall vibe of the record is fun. Whether it’s a whistle that would make PB&J blush (“Green River”), punchy melodies (“Highway Steam”) or simply lacing tracks with hand claps, call and response vocals or what may or may not be the sound effects from a standard sampler, Hooded Fang wants to make sure the listen never succumbs to it’s own emotional weight. They get dark; “Almost Done” is a working class anthem and “Love Song” plays like the band’s take on Timbre Timber swirling blues, but almost every shadow is brightened with vibrant horns and harmonies.


Delightful melancholy and ear pleasing misery are long standing traditions when it comes to pop songs and without question Daniel is blue, but he never assumes the role of the sad clown. Hooded Fang is more Murdoch than Morrissey, refusing to rely on the maudlin sentiments to convince young people that the world is ending every three-minutes. Daniel and April prefer to focus on the universal themes of discontent, not fitting in or feeling lost. There might not be any line quite as memorable as “making life size models of the Velvet Underground in clay” on “Younger Days”, but the alienation is painted vividly for all to see.


What really helps the record is that even with the sadness that runs through the songs, you get the feeling that the Hooded Fang believes there is someone out there for everyone and as naive as it might sound to the hardened cynics, love will conquer all. The band surges forward, letting the unique combination of textures and voices lift your spirits. Nowhere is this more clear than on the defiant gem, “Laughing”. Fuzzy bass, xylophones, synths, drums, horns and spot on harmonies make you want to dance around the room singing along, “I’ll be with you when the going gets going.” It’s nice to hear a record and think for once, maybe it’s all going to work out alright. When that message is encased in beautiful melodies, it’s enough to stop you in your tracks.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

MP3:: Hooded Fang - Laughing




This entry was posted on Monday, October 4th, 2010 at 12:14 pm and is filed under 2010, Best-of '10, Canada, Music, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “Best-of ’10:: Hooded Fang self-titled LP”

Aislinn October 4th, 2010 at 10:06 pm

I am so excited for the Hooded Fang album. Why this band isn’t big is something I cannot fathom.

Hooded Fang ftw!

mike October 5th, 2010 at 11:47 am

I’d never heard of them but the track on this page is great. I’ll definitely grab a copy of this.

Alex Hudson October 10th, 2010 at 3:03 am

Mmm, this is good.

When the going gets going October 26th, 2010 at 5:16 pm

[...] harmonies, mournful horns and fey, lilting melodies. That hits the spot. Thanks to the awesome Herohill for the heads-up on this one. MP3: “Laughing” Posted in Tracks Tagged Hooded [...]

Leave a Reply