Let's get this out of the way so we can focus on the killer garage crunch and massive influx of energy that fill every nook and cranny of The Hands’ eponymous debut long player: yes, the singer is a dead-ringer for mid-period Mick Jagger. I mean, eerily so. We’re talking "are you sure that’s not him?"-level uncanny. Got it? Good. Once you get past the aural double-take his vocals induce, you can settle in and enjoy this Seattle combo's album, which is by turns angular, live-wire spindly and corpulent classic-riff rocking. Kids, if you missed out on the "good old days," when unabashed rock heroes ruled the FM airwaves, this disc lays on the vibe. So pull out the gatefold, crank up the hi fi, and try not to get anything on mom's burnt orange shag carpet, okay?
As much as I’d like to leave all the Stones – and Jagger-isms – at the trail head of this review, it’s frankly impossible, especially upon hearing the tail end of "Hearts Abandoned Will Rust," which veers into shameless Sticky Fingers territory. On the flipside, off course, your inner (or unabashed) Stones fan can't help but cheer a little bit as this song re-imagines the band as a crack indie/garage outfit, crackling and fresh. The buzz continues on the strutting, blasting "Lies Lies Lies," an iPod commercial waiting to happen. The Hands have endured their fair share of comparisons to the iconic Brits; to be fair, it's mostly justified. Opening with a rolling piano before shifting into a speedy and emphatic groove, "Hold Your Head Up" is addictively good despite the fact that "back" is expertly rhymed with "back" and "alright" seems to make up the bulk of the song's lyrics. But, babies, babies, that’s what rock's all about, right?
"I Don’t Want to Turn You On" is full of indie-centric guitar tones and a rollicking tempo, showcasing the other main element that cements The Hands' appeal. A great-sounding horn section and rolling organ soon join the festivities, taking the whole affair to another level entirely. The song's anthemic chorus pumps the energy up another notch, even if it is something of a lyrical kiss-off. Speaking of energy, "Nothing" simply brims with it, adding a pinch of menace. This spiky tune was surely built from the ground up to bring crowds to their feet. Only detours like the fairly conventional "Dry Country" and instrumental "Lord’s Gonna Trouble" threaten to pop the neo-classic bubble this CD creates.
The disc wraps up with "Knife," a threatening, pulsing number. "We had some fun but now our time is through," sneers the Singer-Who-Is-Not-Mick-Jagger, but he knows as well as you do that you'll be first in line when the Hands' rock n’ roll circus rolls into town.
Check out Seattle's The Hands when they play a low-dough show at downtown Fort Wayne's Brass Rail alongside I, Wombat on Sunday, March 16. This $3 show starts and 9 p.m. (DMJ)
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