Release Date: May 28, 2013
Record label: Full Time Hobby
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
After releasing an album in 2010 (Album) that was a straightforward, danceable slice of sweet indie pop, then following it up with an EP of rollicking garage rockers (Tosta Mista) in 2012, the Toronto quartet Hooded Fang switch things up on their 2013 album Gravez by getting leaner, darker, and noisier. Recorded mostly in bedrooms and basements, the album has a raw-and-ready sound that threatens to overload circuits and frazzle speakers, yet the group members maintain such a degree of tight control over their playing that the songs are tightly coiled bolts of energy that hit very hard. The frantic tracks like "Graves" and "Sailor Bull" that feature Lane Halley and Daniel Lee's guitars wrapping around each other like twin downed power lines, D.
Toronto’s indie-rock darlings Hooded Fang may have only released their UK debut LP Tosta Mista a little over a year ago, but here they are, back with another 10 songs of ‘sun-dappled ramshackle garage pop’ (their words). The new album is cheerily titled Gravez, with a jaunty little ‘z’ just to throw everyone off a bit. Oh, you guys. You guyz.
Together and separately, Hooded Fang's April Aliermo and Daniel Lee play in multiple projects: Phedre, Tonka & Puma, Hut and Lee Paradise, to name a few. Those side bands were once an outlet for sounds that didn't fit Hooded Fang's twee-leaning orchestrated seven-piece, complete with glockenspiel flourishes. The Toronto outfit slimmed down to a quartet for their third album, Gravez, and opened their sound to include those styles previously reserved for their other gigs: fuzzy garage rock, slinky synths, summery surf and hints of psych, Kraut and Tropicália.
Hooded Fang makes a sinister-sounding garage rock. The band has many of the hallmarks of the late ‘60s garage rock/Nuggets compilation aesthetic but there is an evil running through these songs, a malevolence lying just underneath that really separates Hooded Fang from any of the other bands operating in this genre. I’d go so far as to call Gravez voodoo garage rock, and although the band hails from Canada, a country that you wouldn’t really associate with voodoo, their sound recalls a foggy New Orleans night.
Should Toronto require some patron saints of indie, Hooded Fang would make ripe pickings. Band members April Aliermo and Dan Lee are two-thirds of DAPS, a respected T.O. label that's released Odonis Odonis, Moon King and Hooded Fang side-projects Hut and Phèdre. April, meanwhile, founded a creative playschool (substitute teachers include Maylee Todd and Henri Fabergé) where kids play musical instruments, sometimes on DAPS releases.
Hooded Fang don’t romanticize their process. Frontman Daniel Lee recently told Exclaim! that his songwriting feels a lot like digesting. Musical influences are nourishment, “and then we’re this little body here, and then the food goes in, and it goes through the guts, and then we shit it all out. And it’s steaming!” Gravez, the third record from the Canadian band, never gets quite as gross as that metaphor, but doesn’t refrain from wrapping its loose-jointed garage punk around itchy feelings.