Release Date: Mar 4, 2008
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
If there's a more interesting indie-rock label than Jagjaguwar out there at the moment then they certainly aren't sending me promos. Its ridiculously impressive roster - Okkervil River, Bon Iver, Black Mountain, Sunset Rubdown, I could go on - reads like a who's who of my current favourites and with the release of Ladyhawk's second album Shots it really seems like these guys can't miss at the moment. Another top quality product of the fertile Vancouver scene, Ladyhawk released its self-titled début on Jagjaguwar back in 2006.
Ladyhawk's Duffy Driedeger denies the existence of any Vancouver collective hinging about the mighty Black Mountain. While members of each band have appeared on the others' albums, and despite similar influences, Driedeger maintains that there's a lack of collaboration. But it's hard to deny that a parallel runs through the viscous riffs, extended breakdowns, and classic-rock eugenics.
A further sign of a new generation in rock & roll -- that a group like Ladyhawk, dedicated to pursuing that kind of music beloved of fans of things indie rock in a proto-grunge sense, can call a song "Corpse Paint" and likely have the reference understood even by people who aren't normally dressed like members of Emperor or Burzum. (Never hurts, though.) This said, Shots is the kind of earnest record that is enjoyable enough on its own merits without standing out as something new -- it's worth a listen well enough if your artistic lodestone is fixated on early-'90s radio rock and the band does a good job at adding some sprightliness to a lumbering aesthetic, but that's about all that can be said. Still, the best moments are enjoyable enough.
Ladyhawk's songs are soaked in alcohol and self-recrimination, full of churning miasmic guitar and hoarse, emotion-laden vocals. Think of the band's music as that moment in a long night of carousing when the first splinters of hangover start to pierce through drunken euphoria, where you're laughing your ass off at something someone said, and all the sudden you remember you're going to die. There's a strut and bravado in these songs, but everyone knows it's a front.