I’m sure the guys in Open Hand are nice. Even though many of the songs feature big guitar sound and heavy percussion, there is a lingering sensitivity that pervades the lyrics, and vocals that are alternately breathy and beautiful. A track like “Take No Action” says it all. Lyrics like “I don’t wanna break your heart 'cause it’s oh so wrong – I don’t wanna waste your love 'cause it feels so strong” pour like milk and honey over a hard guitar line.
Still, one has to be very careful when they promote their release as “an epic masterpiece” – a line that appears on a sticker on the case of the CD and is repeated on the band’s website. A statement like that begs an argument, and while the latest Open Hand release is poignant at times, I’m not sure it’s a “masterpiece.”
Most bands can be classified into one of two categories: those who play for other musicians and/or music nerds, and those who play for the masses. The former craft complex melodies, have a variety of influences, and are not just listened to; they’re “appreciated.” The latter create simplistic, instantly-catchy tunes that are easily digestible by a wide and varied audience. Open Hand is, without a doubt, a band that falls into the first category.This is complicated rock music -- educated angry boy music for deep people.
The CD is uniform throughout; tracks blend seamlessly into one another, at times the only indication that the song has changed is the display on the deck. The sound of each track, with a few exceptions, is very similar, which will either be the blessing or curse of this CD in the mass market. If a full album of music that “obliterates the boundaries between indie rock, stoner rock, metal, emo, and garage rock” is your thing, this is definitely worth checking out. However, I wonder how many people this sound will ultimately appeal to. This is rock for the experimental, educated consumer; it is not intended for consumption by the masses.
Some songs are forgettable. “Tough Girl,” in particular, sounds amateur, and some of the surrounding tracks struggle to distinguish themselves from one another. Others, like “Tough Guy” and “Pure Concentrated Evil,” are radio-ready. “Her Song” epitomizes sexy stoner rock. One song where the plethora of musical influences come together and work is “Crooked Crown,” which is both haunting and peppy.
You’ll like You and Me for the standout songs, and if you’re lucky, you’ll grow to love the rest. This disc isn’t for everyone, but because it treads the line between beautiful background music and arresting, addictive rock, it’s a worthy addition to the “impress your friends” section of your CD collection.