Sonic Reducer: Hooded Fang • Used Cassettes • Kwesi Foraes

Geoffrey Plant
3 min read
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Snapback-tight, yet suffused with an easy-going confidence, Toronto, Ontario’s Hooded Fang has released another collection of tunes that will make both fans of tight pre-hardcore punk rock a lá Wire and post hardcore music fans a lá Fugazi pray their town is on the Canuck quartet’s tour schedule. Venus on Edge is the work of seasoned songwriters and eager players who would seem to be musical equipment junkies as well, something that enhances every tune. The rapid fire rat-a-tat drums are mixed in to the album like a self contained unitperhaps to keep them from spilling everywhere and losing their punch. While the guitars are somehow related to the surf sound, these staccatto riffs and tones are from an independent, punk planet. Perhaps the strongest work of all is evident on “Shallow”; these cats have a properly bass-y bass sound with a carefully crafted “thrub-thrub” that is not easily attained. Kudos for achieving the bass thrub.

Used Cassettes Rock n Rills (Magic Strawberry Sound)

Without warning comes this guitar-driven garage rock gem by an international group of ex-pats living in Seoul, Korea of all places. Surprise might be misplaced, however, as ex-pat bands are actually a worldwide thing. Used Cassettes are a bit unusual as they’ve managed to outgrow the music scene in Seoul—where their sloppy garage-pop has landed on the charts—and become a Western-culture export from Korea. This is easily one of the best beach/wherever-you-find-your-sun rock albums of the summer, with built-in anthems like “Ducati” and a tasteful measure of sing-along lyrics amidst the overdriven, Crime-esque slop and solos. While we can be confident this Korean-chart-cracking, underground sound will never grow big in America, give thanks that Used Cassettes’ third album has escaped Asia to give us a potently fresh take on American rock and roll culture.

Kwesi Foraes 27 (Self-Released)

“I found you deep in the pentacle,” sings folk-blues singer-songwriter Kwesi Foraes, on “Pentacle 13,” one of the more accessible but still pretty unintelligible tracks on his debut EP, 27. Is he talking about magic? You’d think, but it’s really not easy to figure out, leading this critic to think Foraes’ is one of those writers who purposely leaves his lyrics buried in metaphor and open to interpretationkind of like the song “MacArthur Park,”, but not as wigged-out or bold. On a related note, Foraes’ halting, angsty delivery begs comparison to at least two different lesbian folk singers who also dabble in metaphor. I think this means that Foraes is satisfied in his anger, comfortable with his not-so-hot lot in the world. The injustice of 27 is that the songs are really groovy, featuring rewarding arrangements that demand repeated listening. While for me 27 is ruined by overcooked singing, a lot of folk fans will find an authenticity and realism that make it a five star album.

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