Monday, October 7, 2013

Hunters Spark Up A Narcissist Romp

Raw, grungy and thumping are only the first few words that come to mind when sampling almost anything off the new self-titled album from Hunters. Hailing out of Brooklyn, the boy-girl mix up from singer-guitarists Derek Watson and Isabel Almeida is an act to relish as next generation bubblegum sludge.

The self-titled album blisters along as the fronting duo trades guitar barbs and harmonies that are sometimes inspired by the band's own relationships. What makes it especially memorable is that the band taps into the aptly varied experience of them, unfurling intensely tribal and intimately tender in equal measure.

Hunters' self-titled debut looks backward while moving forward. 

For many people, the Hunters are new and freshly unearthed from the underground. In truth, they've already laid down some nice credentials. Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) mixed their first EP (2011). James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) helped out on the production end. It was a solid sampling of potential.

The pair spend so much time together that it creates a natural tension, something they seem to be able to creatively turn into well-timed chords and shouts. And that's the point. They push each other's buttons for a creative reaction, which is how they came upon starting the band years ago.

Four years ago, the duo met while working at a video game arcade in Chinatown. In between their work duties, they would talk about art, videos and music until they eventually propelled each other to turn their shared consumption into creation. And that wasn't the last time fate made a difference.

They met Iha at one of their earliest gigs after Watson decided to play on with a bloody face caused by a carelessly thrown champagne bottle. Iha has been in their corner ever since, no doubt helping them fan the flames of hostile songwriting like on Narcissist.

The raucously appealing free-for-all of a video captures the essence of their live shows, a subtle reminder not to take anything breakable into a mosh pit. It's a song the band claims never had any meaning until after they started playing it.

The grungy and taut relentlessness is a common thread across the album. The second track, Street Trash, takes off with a primal progressive percussion thump, before Watson and Almeida trade chants back and forth. There is an indie charisma at work, backed up by the other two but less visible band members, Gregg Giuffré and Thomas Martin.

Street Trash, interestingly enough, was named in honor of the 1987 J. Michael Muro horror movie. It's one of three fixations Watson and Almeida share together: horror movies, music and professional wrestling. The latter is incorporated into their act in other ways. People mix it up on the floor at their shows. They mix it up on stage.

Other standout tracks to check out while listening to the album include the mellow by comparison She's So, the laid back and settled Seizure, and the sludge pop Blackheart blown out by Almeida. Those songs are all sharply addictive, even if this is one of those cases that call for owning the album.

There is an ebb and flow to the album that gives it a pulse of its own. Even the less listenable tracks like Nosebleed, Thin Twin and Undone are solid, passed over only because the balance of the album is so striking in comparison. Without the comparison, every track stands on its own.

Hunters' Self-Titled Stomps 9.4 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

The Hunters have a knack for playing to their strengths and their strengths are based largely on matching up contrasts. They scream over easy instrumentals and add melody to overly crunchy riffs, all of which makes the Brooklyn indie rockers irresistible. Even better, these 20-something punks are just getting started.

You can pick up Hunters self-titled from Amazon. The album is also available for download off iTunes or the CD can be found at Barnes & Noble. The band is currently touring, slogging back and forth between both coasts and playing shows at select venues in between. Facebook has them listed.
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