Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hoods - 'Ghetto Blaster'

In a genre like hardcore, it’s excruciatingly hard to do anything original (or fun). Whenever a band comes along to revolutionize the style, say a Gorilla Biscuits or a Botch, listeners take note. It’s exhilarating to hear a band take an old sound and give it a new life. But it is because of this same need to hear something new in hardcore than I am wicked pissed about the latest Hoods release, Ghetto Blaster, an album that I’d openly admit to enjoying.

Ghetto Blaster has two personalities going on. Half of the album is steeped in hardcore cliche - it’s a chest-beating sausage fest on tracks like “Ghetto Blaster” and “Can’t Stop the Game.” But then there’s the other half. The fun lovin’, giddily awesome half, showcased by tracks like “Willie Nelson and a Twelve Pack” and, especially, “Don’t Fight, Let’s Party Tonight.”

Let’s get the complaints out of the way. The eponymous album opener boasts a slew of stereotypical tough guy posturing. “As I walk through the valley of death / I fear no one / Because everyone’s dead / I trust this knife / It’s all I need by my side / MY GOD IS PAIN” goes the first chorus. Wow, buddy, see you in the trenches. Way to subvert the “us versus them” ethic of the genre by turning it into “me versus no one because I am tougher than motherfucking Clint Eastwood.”

In sharp contrast are tracks like “Don’t Fight, Let’s Party Tonight.” In a scene marked by violent factions, “Don’t Fight, Let’s Party Tonight” is a unitive anthem for the whole lot. Its message is simple, elegant, and right there in the title. The lyrics discuss picking up a couple of 40s, with the intent of using them to help fuel a party. But the members of Hoods are open-minded chaps. They know that not everyone in the hardcore scene digs alcohol. To this they say, “If you’re straight edge, don’t worry / Hey, I’ll buy you a Sprite.” It works for every form of sXe too, ’cause Sprite doesn’t have caffeine. That the song is a delicious bar rocker just sweetens the deal.

I can hem and haw about how Hoods have drunk a lil too much of the tough guy Kool Aid to whoever will listen; but ultimately, I have to give the guys props for putting out a tight package of metal-tinged ditties. The guitars have a dirty crunch, the drums are mighty muscular, and the vocals are abrasive yet decipherable (always a plus). At 22 minutes, Ghetto Blaster is a rapid fire face crusher and a total party record.

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