Hipshot Killer - Hipshot Killer (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Hipshot Killer

Hipshot Killer (2011)

Locket Love Records

I've said before that one of the benefits of being involved with the multi-national corporation that is Punknews.org is that it provides access to many bands that I'd no doubt struggle to hear of if left to my own devices. I always look forward to the slew of e-mails coming from the Chief Review Editor, a.k.a. Whip Master General, containing requests from bands around the world to consider their musical efforts for review. Yes, there is some stuff that I'd never want to listen to regardless of how many crates of Guinness I was sent. But on the occasion that you hear something and know that you would take on all other reviewers in hand to hand combat to get to review a particular release, it makes the position of "Almost Newest Staff Reviewer," the guy who gets the coffee and doughnuts for the others, well worth doing.

Hipshot Killer provides one of those moments and this 10-track slab of vinyl is a joy to listen to from beginning to end, with a production that is just the right side of well done and a sound that brings to mind some of the great bands that have graced my life including Stiff Little Fingers, Husker Du and Naked Raygun. In fact, all three of those bands are in evidence at times during this album in some way or another and in addition it would be fair to say that Hipshot Killer have what might be considered to be a mix of a UK and a Chicago kind of sound.

For a three-piece, the songs here are all full on, wall of sound efforts without any of them being overly noisy. Guitarist/vocalist Mike Alexander features prominently but at times it is the bass of Chris Wagner that drives the song along, providing nifty fretwork that is reminiscent of SLF's Ali McMordie.

Vocally, Alexander is able to come across a bit like Naked Raygun's Jeff Pezzati. For a man who has never sung in a band before, he does a damn fine job on his debut as a front person. Let's not forget the drummer, often the butt of musician jibes, but here Brad Wicklander is up to the task at hand and is no slouch in keeping up with his bandmates.

This clearly has its basis in punk rock but is also drenched in melody and contains a musicianship that is downright first rate, making it an extremely accessible album (it makes me think of SLF as they moved away from their debut). This is no ordinary band as they really do have a handle on what they're doing and are able to deliver a variety of quality music to top it all off. I'm not going to pick through the songs here because I feel that each track has its own merit, be it with the slight nods towards the three bands mentioned above. Even a hint of Male Bonding shows through at one stage. Credit goes to Alexander and Wagner for their production job with the mastering done by the one and only, omnipresent, Stephen Egerton.

Hipshot Killer's self-titled debut is also available as a download via Bandcamp, but let's face it, it won't look, sound or smell as nice as the vinyl does.