Hank Wood and The Hammerheads - Stay Home (Cover Artwork)

Hank Wood and The Hammerheads

Stay Home (2014)

Toxic State

Stumbling across a new band is always exciting. I was reading a copy of Thrasher"" magazine when I first saw an interview featuring Hank Wood & The Hammerheads from New York City. Although I didn't find the interview itself particularly moving, I was interested enough to look up the band on YouTube. Within a few clicks I discovered a live set recorded in high definition filled with tight, frantic musicianship and raucous audience participation. Why hadn't I heard of this band before? I searched Punknews, Bandcamp and Interpunk to no avail. After piecing together different tidbits of information, I was able to figure out that the band released their debut album Go Home in 2012, and had just released the follow—up entitled Stay Home a few months ago.

There are three big points that Hank Wood & The Hammerheads score with me immediately on Stay Home. First, I am delighted to hear a new and original sound that is still based in traditional punk rock. The band plays an old school, rough and tumble style that reminds me of Fear or early Dwarves material but incorporates keyboards and additional percussion; the eerie sound of the keys combined with various cowbells and tambourines played at a rapid pace sort of gives the album a Latin flavor. Second, the energy of the players heard on the recording makes me want to see these songs played live as soon as possible. Third, the stand out tracks "The Ghost" and "These Chains" make me hit repeat again and again. However, despite being impressed, there are some key factors holding the album back in my opinion. Hank Wood's vocal style is gruff, which I don't mind, but often wanders into the territory of inaudible grunting, which I do mind. The album's production could sound a lot better than it does. I don't understand the lo—fidelity recording on purpose that seems hip these days. The guitars sound fuzzed out and the bass lines won't be shaking your speakers. Lastly, clocking in at a mere 21 minutes, I think this 10—song album could have used a couple more tracks to bring it up to a fuller presentation of 12 or 14 songs.

If you think traditional punk has grown tired with little room for new sounds, then take a chance on Stay Home. It might be a little short on the clock and a little fuzzy in the mix, but it's still a solid release from an original band that will bring something new to your music collection.