Strange Hands – Dead Flowers

Release Date : 11/05/2012 (Shit Music For Shit People / Azbin Records)
Permalink : http://www.mostlyferocious.com/2012/04/15/strange-hands-dead-flowers

Strange Hands Dead FlowersSince launching Mostly Ferocious I’ve been approached by a number of indie labels to review upcoming releases. None more of a surprise than the intriguingly named Italian/Portuguese label, ‘Shit Music For Shit People’ (no, really). SMFSP, as they’re known, are probably most revered for amazingly detailed cover art, and in terms of genre, they specialise in avant garde, ‘no-music’ and, you’ve guessed it, ‘Shitcore’. On Googling, the latter revealed something less than melodic; and what I can only assume is more ‘art’ than music. Nevertheless it’s always refreshing to hear of new movements, regardless of taste.

The record SMFSP sent was not their typical output, it came in the form of French three-piece, ‘Strange Hands’, and their debut album ‘Dead Flowers’.

From the start this is dirty lo-fi goodness, zero production, like it’s being recorded in someone’s bedroom. Its charm is almost boundless. Opening track ‘First Poem’ is a beautiful chord changing pop record, with vocals snarled over the top. Considering the production value, it’s a complete surprise.

All the way though the record, Strange Hands demonstrate again and again their understanding of a great three and a half minute pop tune.  Choruses, instrumental breaks, big guitar solos, it’s all done as it should be, but with a swagger that’s hard to compare. I have no idea why a major hasn’t groomed them into something more mainstream, but thankfully for us, that hasn’t happened yet.

In terms of the band itself, all of the tracks are led by loud guitars, snarling vocals, drums and a hugely infecting hammond organ. This is best showcased on second track, ‘Bunny Slipper’ with its hippy-shake melody. The transitions made from softer sounds to out-and-out punk is where this record is most genius; they are effortless in their changeover. Similarly ‘She’s Mine’ is led almost entirely by organ and sounds like it was recorded in the late sixties.

‘Smell’ is full-on punk rattled out just as The Ramones would have done it. Unashamedly huge guitar solos litter the track, sounding louder than hell even at low volume.  The next track, ‘Love Illusion’ resembles an early line-up of The Animals with Iggy Pop on vocal duties. It really is that good.

‘Acid Vision’ is a previously released single, which is drenched in hypnotic guitar riff and barely audible vocals. The drumming is furious, and you can taste the passion with which this was put together.

Title track ‘Dead Flowers’ is probably one of the more considered pieces here, and the only instrumental track on offer. It starts slow and builds speed as central guitar solo develops. Crazy organ generated sounds are dropped in on-route keeping things as psychedelic as the rest of the record.

Final track ‘Warm Reflection’ ends what can only be described a ‘trip’ of an album. Distorted, echoed vocals hint at (very) early Stone Roses, and more chotics organ/guitar duelling is afoot.

Dead Flowers actually benefits from the lack of production it has been given. To call it a diamond in the rough might be a cliche too far. I honestly think if it sounded any clearer to the listener, the passion and authenticity that this album presents might disappear. Strange Hands are fantastic songwriters and very solid musicians. Whilst the album sounds dirty and disposable, these aren’t tracks which are put together as easily as they sound. Each one is a great pop record. If I could want anything from Strange Hands, it would be more of the same.

Mike Conyard

Strange Hands – Dead Flowers can be found direct from SMFSP at;
http://shitmusicforshitpeople.bigcartel.com/product/strange-hands-dead-flowers-lp

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