Release Date: Jan 20, 2009
Record label: Frenchkiss
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Pop
Put together a bright, breezy guitar pop group with two respected producers and it should be a can't-miss proposition. Unfortunately, Cut Off Your Hands' debut You and I, which was produced by Bernard Butler and Stephen Street (who also mixed), is well-made but, strangely, not as engaging as it should be. The band has an appealing sound, coming off like New Zealand's answer to Maximo Park or Franz Ferdinand (with a touch of the Cure's more upbeat stuff for good measure), and the raw energy of their live shows and early EPs overcame any clichés or obvious influences in their music.
Cut Off Your Hands may be close to Cut Copy in terms of geography (COYH are from New Zealand; Cut Copy from Australia), but this four-piece eschews synths and beats for tried-and-true post-punk guitars and emotive Brit-rock vocals. On explosive pop gem Turn Cold, guitarist Michael Ramirez channels Phoenix's Consolation Prizes with carefree This Charming Man-esque guitar licks. Frontman Nick Johnston sometimes errs on the side of being too emo, but he never gets into cringe-worthy Kele Okereke territory.
Flight of the Conchords, Lucy Lawless and Peter Jackson comprise just a few of our favorite New Zealand exports. And now, hailing from the land of endless beaches, kiwi and sheep, is a bustling new foursome going by the name Cut Off Your Hands (which, prior to a Portland lawsuit, was known as Shaky Hands). Three EPs in to its three-year career, the band has already won over massive audiences in New Zealand as well as Australia, courtesy of touring slots on both 2007 and 2008’s Big Day Out festivals.
New Zealand’s Cut Off Your Hands are pleasant enough. They write affable power pop, borrow from bands you possibly like, and might lodge a few hooks in your brain over the course of their first full-length, You and I. Given their youth, it’s easy to give them a pass when they can’t quite reach the heights of their obvious influences. “Oh Girl”, the third track, offers the first highlight of the record and an indication of the band’s abilities.