Wednesday, October 14, 2015

LOCAL Album Review: The Hussy - Galore

Longtime fixtures of the recently booming garage-punk circuit here in Madison, self-described “trash-rockers” The Hussy deliver what we’ve come to love while simultaneously expanding their sound on the fourth LP Galore (released June 30, 2015).  The most noticeable change is the addition of bass, which the former-duo incorporates through the entire album.  Their stripped-down aesthetic is further bolstered by layers of guitars and effects, percussive elements, and on some tracks creative instrumentation such as violin and lap-steel guitar.  Make no mistake however, this is still a band and a record built on no-bullshit charming scrappiness.  Even while delivering some of their most immediate, hooky material to date, the DEVO-esque cheeky pop is balanced perfectly with an aggressiveness and abrasion reminiscent of early grunge bands like Mudhoney.  Bobby Hussy continues to be one of the more exciting guitar slingers going, with fuzzed-out progressions and a ramshackle (though very proficient) soloing style that cuts through the mix like a lawnmower.  The boy/girl vocal dynamic is also on full display, with impressive harmonies and defiant, carefree lyrics delivered with a grin and a middle finger.  

Galore digs its claws into you right of the bat with standout opener Asking for Too Much.  Acoustic and electric guitars mesh together and Bobby cooly laments from a deep sea of reverb in a track that has all the makings of a garage rock classic.  Things only get better with follower Take You Up.  Bob plays the crooner for two verses, channelling the deep post-punk type of drone of Ian Anderson or Peter Murphy.  Punctuated by a vocal-less chorus centered on guitar interplay, the track finishes with a soaring wall-of-sound bridge. 

Following a very solid pair of snotty punk bangers in EZ/PZ and Made in the Shade, guest musician Justin Aten’s violin takes center stage in the exquisitely somber downtempo dirge Darkness.  What begins as a sparse psychedelic arrangement of delicate guitar arpeggios and Heather’s mellow brooding gets the garage treatment during it’s second half.  Like a breaking wave the track explodes into a noisey whiteout as guitar distortion kicks in and Aten wails away on the violin in such a way reminiscent of John Cale’s viola work with The Velvet Underground.  All the while the detached monotone vocals continue, washed all but out of the mix as Galore’s side one comes to a shoegazing close.

With such a high standard set by Galore’s first side, side two tends to sag a bit as repetition sets in.  Several tracks have the feel of a band that is still struggling to capture the intensity and passion of their live performance in a way that makes for a consistently satisfying at-home listening experience.  These tracks ride purely on the guitar work, and for the most part Bobby makes it happen with an absolutely in-the-pocket performance.  Through memorable riffs and volatile soloing, he commands his distorted, livewire sound like a rock n’ roll cowboy wrangling a mad stallion.  J Mascis is the very apparent influence on his style, and there is no doubt that this display would earn a nod of approval from the legendary Dinosaur Jr frontman. 

Closing track My Bad plays like a Vivian Girls-esque neo-shoegaze as Heather’s ethereal vocals float delicately over a raging sea of feedback and distortion.  The album ends with noisey psychedelic freakout that features Bobby’s most extensive soloing before gradually giving way to pure static.  It makes for a grinding finish, but fits the album’s tone awesomely.   

Overall Galore sees The Hussy craft an incredibly listenable record that not only maintains but builds upon their established identity as a band.  Some of the more straight-forward numbers leave a bit to be desired, but at its best the album delivers brilliantly ragged psychedelia without any sense of indulgence or pretension.  It isn’t until the final track that any song hits the three minute mark, but every song is packed with dense instrumentation and production that absolutely hits its mark as almost a grungy version of Pet Sounds.  Galore is not only satisfying for those familiar with the band, but has the authenticity and execution of an album that any rock fan can appreciate.  This is the kind of record that you immediately put on a second time, while you anxiously wait to see what the band does next.

To purchase your copy of Galore, swing by Mad City Music Exchange or visit Southpaw Records

*Catch The Hussy on night two of TurkeyFest; Saturday October 24 at Crystal Corner, as they play their first show back in the states following an extensive European tour!!

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