Friday, March 11, 2011

98 The Hard Way: EPs, Day 11

Hefner: The Hefner Soul (Too Pure)

I long to hear versions of these songs that were recorded better. It's obvious from the get go that the songs here are good enough, and that Darren Hayman is a much better lyricist than any of his ostensible peers down in second or third tier britpop land - obvious debts to Ray Davies and Jarvis Cocker already but him a step or five ahead of anyone who believed that Noel Gallagher was a figure to aim towards on a lyrical level - but the songs here absolutely scream for more involved and layered arrangements. Not to say that they aren't well suited for these acoustic, almost demo-y versions, "Flowers" especially sounds almost perfect as it is, but given how much broader a palette the band used to its advantage on Breaking God's Heart later the same year, it makes me wish I could hear a properly dressed up version of "Broodmare" or "More Christian Girls." Still, for what it is it's very good. A nice companion piece to Breaking God's Heart and an indication that even the songs that Hefner treated like castoffs were worth investigating. [7.8/10]

Don Caballero: Trey Dog's Acid (Touch and Go)
This is the appetizer, the amuse-bouche. If you wanted your appetite whetted for Don Cab's third album this prbably did the trick quite nicely, properly showcasing that the band was in flux from the abrasive, noisy unit that made 2 to a much tighter, more fluid group that could make things on the verge of chaos sound invitinly pretty. Essentially it plays like they decided to expand the sound introduced on "Cold Knees (in April)" to the full band, thus forcing Damon Che to rein in his wilder instincts - no cymbal-sawing breakdowns herein - and letting Pat Morris' ever nimble bass playing more fully interact with the guitars rather than being used as an underlayer. It's the beginning of the Don Cab sound that I have the most affection for, and as a transitional step it does it's job ably. They'd expand on this with most excellent results a few months later, but these two tracks are worthy companions to that. [8.6/10]

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