If someone told you to listen to an album which detailed band members’ family histories you’d be forgiven for perhaps expecting something from the sensitive singer-songwriter sphere. Songs where the vocals are pushed way up front and center and the music is slow-paced. Maybe even, this might be subject matter, in your mind, more commonly associated with genres such as country or folk. ‘Dynasty House’ by Hooded Fang however is an indie record that gleefully bounces through much murkier sonic territory before bounding out of the exit in less than half an hour flat. That it pulls off this trick hinged around such a great concept and aesthetic makes it all the more beguiling.
Over the course of a good few releases now Hooded Fang have managed to arrive at a point where they have very much shaped their own distinctive sound. No mean feat when it comes to the simple and perennially rehashed medium of rock and roll. If you read our interview here you’ll come to understand that their sound has in fact changed so much they’ve even removed a couple of earlier releases from their Bandcamp page so as to achieve a greater amount of cohesion regarding their back catalog. Understandable really has the records you can currently purchase there flow very nicely into each other. Very nicely indeed.
It is perhaps with ‘Venus On Edge’ that Hooded Fang first truly hit upon the true individuality they’d been more than threatening to achieve on their previous and no less entertaining releases. With ‘Dynasty House’ we have a very neatly packaged continuation of this trend performed by a group that know exactly how to cut out the fat and serve up a music that is mean, lean and straight to the point.
This is a band that always had the hooks but also a diverse background and interest in other genres, such as electronic music and hip hop, giving them an outlook from which to approach, what is ostensibly guitar music, from a really interesting angle. In ‘Dynasty House’ we can hear this hit home to startling effect. Whilst it’s common for fast tempo indie music to be based around a catchy vocal hook or guitar riff, Hooded Fang have no hang ups about letting the bass and drums carry the weight of an arrangement when it feels right, with wig outs that almost sound like a form of indie dance music but not in a contrived way where effects or sounds associated with dance music are just thrown at an arrangement, but more in the way the rhythms take hold and bars are repeated to hypnotic effect.
In terms of the vocals, these sit nestling nicely in a manner that doesn’t dominate but that sparks your curiosity and makes you want to keep revisiting. There’s something of a Strokes vibe in a sense but it’s a more casual and aloof type of delivery that compliments song structures which always feel like they are in danger of spinning out of control and leaving their axis despite the wheels never quite fully coming off. This type of managed chaos is hard to achieve. It takes a well rehearsed and tight unit to play this fast this well.
Then there’s the guitar and I am presuming at times synth sounds, though it is difficult to tell these days with the fx that are available. Either way, It’s important to appreciate and acknowledge just how difficult it actually is to come up with textures that sound both original and enjoyable to listen to at the same time. Sure there’s still a dirgey garage thing underpinning much of what Hooded Fang do but, again, perhaps it is the fact they have not simply been weaned on guitar music which allows them to break out of that shell and work from audio palettes that paint genuinely expansive, progressive, and, often, spooky and unsettling aural pictures. Important to mention too that this release is a triumph in mixing and engineering as well as sophisticated writing, musicianship and arrangement. Don’t let the rough around the edges vibe fool you.
I’ve been listening on repeat and I can’t find anything wrong with this damn record! Buy this album and everything else you can get your hands on by Hooded Fang. Do it and do it now.
Check out the Hooded Fang Bandcamp page here.