MP3 Hatestick - Appleseed LP
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11 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Modern Rock, POP: Quirky
from Splendid E-Zine 1/26/05
A name like Hatestick conjures images of a Slipknot cover band, or some nu-metal outfit hell-bent on rocking out with their cocks out. Luckily, Connecticut's Hatestick is neither, preferring to market their own raw blend of lo-fi melodic rock.
Adam G is the main architect of this deliciously disaffected product of suburban-style bitterness. He has the energy of Ben Kweller and the biting cleverness of The Weakerthans' John K. Samson. The main media here are wry nostalgia and curt, skeptical glances at the future, all painted on a threadbare canvas with textured strokes and muted but distinct colors.
The bitterness on display here is accompanied by a keen sense of impermanence and time's fleetingness. The short opener "Dead Canary Blues" sets that tone, admonishing the listener "You gotta get the fuck out of that coal mine," as if society is leaking a noxious gas and time is running out before we suffocate. On the driving "Break The Lease", amid the observation that "us diabetics do die younger", Adam G confesses, "I wanna stay far away from visions of our future world / Won't you let me hide somewhere inside the memories of that other girl?" The vulnerable, tender "Kind of There", in which Adam G is joined by fellow Connecticut musician Lys Guillorn on backing vocals, yields the observation, "You're not the sort / To stay on life support." There is no optimistic patience betrayed on these tracks; rather, a rueful retrospect overrides any positive outlook.
Some of the other tracks are a bit less heavy-handed, but no less engaging. "So Boring", a catchy relationship study, is not only a fun listen musically, with its fuzzy guitar vibe, but the dizzying wordplay in phrases like "varicose Pacific coast highways" and "open marriage blood test blues" raises the song to another level. The touching "Out of Money", directed towards an ex about to head down the aisle with a new beau, looks at the situation with an element of irony, noting the "open bar on your wedding day / my one year chip's 11 months away." Unfortunately, bitingly funny lines like "See saw, up and down / My cumshot on your wedding gown" are weighed down by the droning repetition of the song's chorus.
Describing the compositions on Appleseed LP as dense and complex would be an understatement, and the nine-minute epic closer "California Songwriter" is a testament to that point. The impassioned address to someone dear and departed is rich with vivid imagery ("You climb up the sky to hunt for starlight you might once have known" is one of the song's most gorgeous pictures) and emotionally charged poetry. The promise, "When your daddy's ghost finally throws his bones and takes you home / Mama, I will be your California songwriter" is haunting and uplifting, and it knots the song up in a thick heartstring without becoming pap.
My bus rides between Boston and New York City, which wind for an interminably long period down the forlorn, mall-lined highways of Hatestick's Nutmeg State, had driven me to the conclusion that Connecticut is a hopelessly depressing entity, devoid of substance or purpose. Hatestick both confirms and refutes that thesis. While I believe it is Connecticut's forlorn and depressing landscape that spurs Adam G's compelling musical responses, the Appleseed LP redeems that landscape with its smart, gritty indie pop. It may not make a lot of sense, but you know what? I'll take it.
-- Georgiana Cohen
in partnership with CDbaby
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