Some bands keep doing the same thing over and over again, album after album, until they spontaneously combust in a shitty room full of no one at some date 2-5 albums after their big bang. Pop groups, bands who operate in units of song… when they go this route? That’s when people start slowly bringing the barrels of handguns toward their temples.
It is an undervalued art, that of writing pop song after pop song and being able to make each a snowflake (with each also branded by the pop song writing band’s particular stamp). Each song a handcrafted vessel for the particular pop approach(es) of said band. Pulling this off demands a widening of the filter and a broadening of perspective. Evolution. Growth. Doesn’t matter if you’re talking about THE KINKS, THE PIXIES, MAC DEMARCO, QUILT, THEE OH SEES, STREET GNAR, FREE PIZZA, FAT CREEPS or whoever else. I’ve been checking in with HANDS AND KNEES on a fairly regular basis for a number of years now. I, at one point thought of them as an indie rock/pop band, but as the years have worn on country, rhythm & blues, post-punk, and a million strains of indie rock have seeped deeply into the blood flowing through these 4, collectively a hero unit of Boston underground pop going back 7+ years.
On this 5th full length of theirs, AMERICAN CHEESE, this (mostly) Boston band (Scott on guitar the outlier in Shelburne Falls) partners with Boston label BUFU RECORDS. And what HANDS AND KNEES delivers are 9 tracks full of their trademark country rock/ indie rock approach as well as forays into a bit of post-punk, and some 90s style power pop. The latter, “My Boy”, is the one song on AMERICAN CHEESE featuring lead vocals by bassist Carina. The guitars here are the most lush found on the record, filling the room, and sounding huge. Carina’s dreamy melody and delivery stands against this backdrop, the whole blending perfectly. The former, “Freakshow”, is based upon a stuttering Nick Branigan beat and the simple beauty of the syncopation that Carina creates by adding her bass line to it. Joe sings lead on this one and the rest of the songs found on the record. The guitars crash all over the place here, and there’s a Gospel-something to Joe’s vocal melody. The refrain goes, “Keep thinking about the unknown.” And that’s what HANDS AND KNEES keep doing. I mean, that’s what it’s all about right? 5+ releases in and I am still listening and still waiting to see what their next pop nugget is going to look and sound like. One of Boston’s best. A joyous band.
Below you will also find a brand new video for the song “Flying Fast” which is also found on AMERICAN CHEESE.
HANDS AND KNEES release their new album AMERICAN CHEESE tonight (7/24) @ the HOUSE THAT CD-Rs BUILT in JP, on a bill full of some of the best of the Boston Pop Underground: Nice Guys, Skinny Bones, and Alex Marantz and the Piffs.
Flying Fast from Hands and Knees on Vimeo.