Garage rock is a tricky genre. From listening to the intentionally lo-fi recordings and simple song structures, you might be tempted to think anyone can pull it off. Goodness knows a lot of bands have tried, but few have managed to stand out enough to gain more than just local recognition. Still others, such as Southern California’s The Willowz, struggle to break out of the tightly confined space the genre allows without losing what made them successful in the first place.
But for those who have become disillusioned with the garage rock scene, there is still hope to be found in the form of So Sweet, the latest EP from Seattle’s The Hands. The band makes a wise choice in staying away from distortion saturation, unlike many of the outfit’s genre-mates. The lead vocals sound like Dave Grohl doing his best Mick Jagger impersonation. There’s a lot of pop-rock pizzazz (think The Strokes on methamphetamines) and some quaint little surf-rockish riffs thrown in to keep you on your toes.
The only thing that remains to be seen is if the band can improve upon (or at least not ruin) what they’ve created in their future recording endeavors. So Sweet isn’t cookie-cutter garage rock, which leaves adequate room for expansion. The challenge for The Hands will be to come back with the same beautifully channeled energy and innovation that propels their debut EP.
Joining The Hands on their swing through Albuquerque (and keeping with the “components of the human body” motif) are punk-rock quartet The Skeletons. They can be most easily compared to a satanic version of Screeching Weasel with a lady drummer and a lead singer mildly reminiscent of Davey Havok from AFI.
“Mexican Death Song” sounds like the result of a Marilyn Manson/Blink 182 collaboration, while “Bodies on the Street” (although you wouldn’t know it from the grizzly title) shows the band can play nice when it wants to, with a swing-based rhythm and a gentler level of fuzz on the guitar.