November 12, 2009

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We All Have Hooks for Hands, The Shape of Energy
Afternoon Records, Nov. 17

The careening high-pitched whines of this South Dakota seven-or-eight-some instantly brand them as the latest Flaming Lips challenger, a hipster band of the minute for in-over-their-heads collegians seeking some warped form of communion in a cold harsh world of drinking-game losing streaks and no sex ever. We’ll see what happens, but WAHHFH is actually more worthwhile than the inevitably forthcoming orgasmic reviews from Spin and CMJ will lead people to believe — there’s nothing rock-god about any band like this, but their songwriting bottom line is a solid, accessible one. They don’t sound like a gaggle of poopy-bum slackers whose idea of nirvana is a couple of wild nights in the Brooklyn scenester clubs, not when they can summon vivid images of Frankie Valli playing Vegas on one track (“California”) and a drunken frat-house Supertramp the next (“Records a Stone”). Mostly it’s The Who/Cheap Trick for the Juno generation’s fast-dying middle-middle-class: hidden in the open within the lo-fi, childishly exuberant production slop are enough ’70s-loving hooks to earn the band a rep as this year’s next-best-thing-to-Strokes. We should note that there’s a percussive element ready to throw open its raincoat — someone in the band is thinking lovey-dovey thoughts about Vampire Weekend, in case you remember that the year 2008 ever even came and went. AEric W. Saeger