Hank the Pirate
Local band Hank Marley takes the first half of its name from the late, great Hank Williams Sr. And like the original Hank, the band knows how to tell a story. In the title track, the trio’s bandleader Hank the Pirate weaves the tale of Osceola, the Seminole warrior, while “On the Day…” is a bellowing shanty about Blackbeard. Laced between witty and insightful verses, slide and electric guitars intertwine with just the right amount of distorted wail. “If I had me a boss, I’d ask him for a little more pay/I’ve been workin’ real hard at hardly workin’ at all,” sings Hank in the opening track, a sign of the laid-back vibe that permeates the album. The room gets loud and rowdy on “Just Can’t Stay with Sue” and “Street Fightin’ Woman,” while the cozy love song, “Back in Heaven,” is a fitting end to the nine-track album. Like a bite of lightly-seared tuna fresh off the boat, Lonesome Paradise puts just the right amount of crisp polish on its songs, but leaves the full, raw flavor to be savored. (www.myspace.com/hankmarleyband) —Stratton Lawrence
Friends for Hire
Wishing on the stars with a hoodie on, worrying about making the wrong move on a teenage beauty, pledging love for lips, eyes, and hair, dodging rumors about this and that … these high school romance issues seem to be the theme of the six-song collection Avant Garde. While Friends for Hire infrequently played the local clubs this year, the Charleston-based band obviously spent a great deal of time and effort arranging and recording this mini album. Lyrically, things are pretty cute and light. Musically, however, brothers Tony (vocals/guitar) and Matt Morgan (synth/vocals) and company rock with precision, dynamics, and their own modernized take on the classic power-pop style. While the cutesy “Girl, You Look Too Damn Good” or the weakly piano anthem “I’m Feeling Alive” might be too sugary for consumption, the faster-paced, more guitar-driven stuff like “Sticks & Stones” has more teeth (although the wild and warpy Moog synth parts in that song are a bit over the top). The percussive “Danger Us” bounces from head-banging breaks to anthemic four-chord choruses. Friends for Hire appear to be new traditionalists more than young avant gardists. (www.myspace.com/friendsforhire) —T. Ballard Lesemann
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