Friday, April 1, 2011

Album Review: "Black Shark" by Hammer No More The Fingers

"Black Shark" by Hammer No More The Fingers
is being released on Friday April 1, 2011 at
Motorco in Durham.  "Black Shark" is being released
on Churchkey Records
The Durham indie-rock trio of Hammer No More The Fingers have been tearing up the Triangle music scene for years now, but with the release of their new full length "Black Shark" it feels like the band has really fallen into their stride.  With a highly anticipated album release show tonight at Motorco in Durham, with a special brew and pizza to boot, Hammer No More The Fingers are about to unleash "Black Shark" onto the world, and my guess is that it'll devour us all.

The album starts out and gives a solid bunching of opening tracks with songs like "Atlas of an Eye" and "The Agency", two tracks that feel awfully reminiscent of "Looking For Bruce", but theres absolutely nothing wrong with that.  Even if the tracks sound like they could have fit in on "Bruce", there's still a feeling of a certain tightness in the recordings, like the band has found a sound that truly fits them and honed it over the years, which is exactly what they've done.  There's not a weak track on the album, and it powers straight through it's 34 minute runtime almost too quickly.  However, when you begin to hear something other than distorted guitars and booming choruses, like when "Thunder n' Rain" has strings kick in mid-way through, that's when you truly realize how much this band has developed since their last album.  Their melodies are more refined, their songs have much more depth, yet they still retain their brand of teenage nostalgic innocence even though the band has clearly grown over the years.

Hammer boasts a massive amount of charisma whilst on-stage together and have one of the most excited crowds every time I've seen the band perform.  Hammer has lucked out and found a way to translate some of that energy into their recordings, songs like "Steam" and "The Agency" provide head bobbing rhythms and choruses that are practically begging for a sing along.  It's not all about belting choruses and catchy rock n roll riffs though, because some of the brightest moments of the album can be found in tracks like "The Visitor" and "Fingernails", the closing tracks of the album.  "Fingernails" is a track that focuses less on being loud and in your face and focuses more on building up to a point of resolution, a resolution that comes with the familiar Hammer style of a catchy guitar line and a resounding lyric of "these fingernails don't think about themselves."  It's odd out of context, but after sitting down through the album it seems to make sense, and that's  how most of the ridiculous lyrics are with any of these songs.  Tracks like "Leroy" with the catchy as hell chorus that opens up with a lyric that's sure to be chanted for shows to come with "My name is Leroy motherfucker!", but it follows up with one of the more insightful lyrics of the album and ironically enough also one of the catchiest choruses as well "In the beginning of life/There is a wonderful sound in our heads/In the last inning of life/There is a terrible frown, we wear to bed".

Even in "Black Shark"'s weakest moments it's one of the brighter shining releases of the year.  There's no glaring weak track and that's because each one is carefully constructed, containing nostalgia tinged sounds that take you back to a time of youth where the days were filled with a twisted blend of happiness and sorrow into one ferocious shout that encompasses just what it means to not only have your entire life in front of you, but your youth swiftly fleeting.  Hammer touches on all of the bases on "Black Shark" and prove that they can swim with the big fishes in the ranks of the North Carolina music scene.  In a state where the attention is all drawn to acts like Lost in the Trees, The Love Language, and Megafaun, an indie rock band like Hammer No More The Fingers may not get all of the attention that they truly deserve and tend to be left out in the mentioning of the states top acts, but with "Black Shark" the band proves that they deserve to be in the ranks of the Carolina greats.

Hammer gives it their all on "Black Shark" and the hard work pays off, as they've crafted an album that has not only exceeded it's expectations, but also set the band up in the perfect situation to truly blossom out into something much bigger than even imaginable on "Looking For Bruce".  Whether you be an already dedicated Hammerhead or a new-comer to the band, go ahead and dive right in because "Black Shark" is the best possible jumping point as the band's catchiest, yet fullest, record to date.

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