In as telling a way as the cliché states, the picture that adorned the eponymous debut of Ladyhawk’s 2006 debut spoke volumes about the Canadian band’s penchant for earth inspired, roots rock. A scantily clad acid causality perched upon a tree stump in the midst of an anywhere forest related all too perfectly to the guitar heavy, countrified essence of the band who certainly owed more to Crazy Horse than Sabbath. Under that cover laid ten tracks of denim clad doubt and unshaven soul that seemed to lend itself more openly to an informal session amongst friends than the Billboard charts of the ’70s.
Shots, the second full-length from the band, carries with it the soul and mission of its predecessor capped off with a looseness that is comforting in the most down home of senses. Beginning with a familiar boot stomp and head bang, the opening stick hits of “I Don’t Know What You’re Saying” give way to a raunchy riff that butts itself against a feedback fence that would be more suited on a Kevin Shields collaboration than that of a Ladyhawk record. Still, it is a welcome surprise that neither dominates nor impedes upon the style and sound that is slowly becoming the band’s staple. “S.T.H.D.” is a two-minute, wah pedal-induced fit complete with throat straining screams and abrasive lyrics urging the impostors “back to the city” and “back to their poetry.” This could very well be considered the first stone thrown in the indie rock war of words between Brooklyn and Vancouver. First ones to switch to loose-fit jeans win.
“Fear,” a track that comes closest on the effort to embodying the memorable qualities of 2006’s masterful “The Dugout,” contains the wanderlust of broken hearted blues as well as it’s dire need for salvation via escape. In the same way vocalist Duffy Dreidiger pleaded for the truth in 2006, he now begs for anything but sorrow in the same boyish earnestness that laced his previous elusive desires (“I just wanna taste something other than tears…I don’t wanna go home but I can’t stay here“). The vulnerability displayed between the chord progressions mark a telling disparity; music that is founded in a dominating, masculine tradition bookended by lyrics of stained hearts on flannel sleeves. In other words, not only will Ladyhawk cuddle afterwards, but they will even make you eggs in the morning. Either way, you are definitely getting laid.
Roadhouse smoke and abandoned alleys flood the frontal lobes with the sexy wrist flicks of “Corpse Paint.” A moonlight hour muse on mortality and the spirits we can never shake with sleep, it also features guitar work comparable to that of later era Mascis. One cannot help but tip his hat to this track. “(I’ll Be Your) Ashtray” conjures comedic cancer metaphors to describe the pleasures and problems of love with a slow fizz riff that crescendos into a full band jam not unlike that of their very own, “48 Hours.” The epic, “Ghost Blues” wraps it all up nicely, leaving everything out there one would expect from Ladyhawk. Harmonic stylings and iron hot overdubs that reinforce the grandness of classic and prove you don’t have to re-invent the wheel with every turn, so long as you make the ride worth the while.
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