A horrible hack

Smallgang

San

Year Released: 2014
Format: CD
Label: Damnably
 
Reviewed by MH on May 25, 2014
I'd not heard of Smallgang prior to picking this out of the review pile but this is something of a collaborative effort with all the songs being written by two brothers who form part of this trio. They then recorded the album with a bunch of guests as well as themselves. I'm familiar with some of them - you'll likely recognise some names from the list amongst their CVs - Bitch Magnet, My Bloody Valentine, Shonen Knife, to name a few of them. The album title means "Three" in Japanese by the way.

This kicks off with the brief, aptly-named "Precursor" before it settles in to the taut rock of "Imminent Child". "Orbs" is up next and is somewhat darker with a thick bass line leading the track. See this track for exemplary use of the bass guitar by the way. In fact, the bass work throughout is one of the best things about the album - really prominent. "No Lotus" is also notable for its grooving bassline. That song reminds me of Blank Realm a little bit. The general feel is a little dark and maybe a little moody thanks partly to the distinctive, baritone lead vocals and their deadpan delivery. Stylewise, I'd put this down as indie /alt rock with a 90s flavour. It is mid-paced in the main and a few of the songs feature female backing vocals from Gill Sandell from Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo, and also Ritsuko Taneda from Shonen Knife. They work particularly well on tracks like "Dust" and "Hibernation". Most of the songs do something a little different and it keeps the high standards it sets from that opener right through to the end. The last three tracks are particularly good starting off with "Cards" which brings a more melancholy feel and a nice jangle on the guitar sound alongside the male and female vocal interplay. "Replacements" is the last actual song and is a strong, slow-burning rocker and the album ends with a humdinger of a noisy and rowdy instrumental rocker which climaxes amidst a wall of feedback. This is a really good album and Damnably is a label that continues to impress me.


Share this: