For the past three years, Toronto based indie/rock band Hooded Fang has been consistently releasing album after album. Their 2013 release, Gravez, is an absolute joy to listen to. With a name like that, some seriously dark undertones were to be expected, but as each track came and past, things picked up quickly.
The first major song of the album, “Graves,” started things off with a heavy and slick bass line; soon heavily distorted guitars and pounding drums joined the twanging bass. But as heavy as this looks on paper, it sounds far more friendly. It’s apparent by their first track, Hooded Fang knows better than to take themselves too seriously. What starts as aggressive and intense quickly turns vibrant and insouciant. Hooded Fang quickly picks up surfy undertones, and by the next song, “Ode To Subterrania,” things are sounding bright. The vocals take center stage and ease the song along more fuzz filled guitar tracks and pulsating drum lines.
Throughout the album Hooded Fang plays some beach-nausea inducing jams. It’s like a band managed to find a way to not just play surf rock that reminds you of the beach, but surf rock that reminds you of the sunburn too. The fourth track, “Bye Bye Land,” whips out some acoustics (and the distortion stays for the fun of it), the once energetic melodies seem to slow down a bit, and the singing becomes far more whiny. As summer-sounding as the album is, it’s painfully charming in the best ways possible and that’s what truly makes it. Not once will you find yourself asking, “When will this be over?” but rather, “Why does this have to end?”
Unfortunately, at Hooded Fang’s worst, Gravez can come off a little repetitive sometimes. As refreshing as it is to sound a bass that actually sounds relevant, and as much as surf rock inspired melodies are cool and fun to listen to, and as great as distortion sounds in a rock song, it gets old. Several tracks only seem to differentiate themselves with a little added instrumentation or different lyrical melodies. It doesn’t matter –it all seems to blend anyways. Thankfully, that’s not enough to call Gravez bad or even unacceptable, it’s perfectly good.
Not once was there a song on Gravez that made me think, “Well boy this sucks.” In fact, quite the opposite. Aside from redundancy, Hooded Fang outdid themselves. If you’re not a fan, prepare to become one. A Canadian band making a good summer album sounds like one hell of a contradiction. But Hooded Fang did it. Gravez features a number of songs that would be perfect on a Summer 2013 playlist, and each song is pretty solid. You can’t go wrong here. From start to finish you’ll be lost in a cloud of fuzzy melodies and alluring vocals.