Hammer No More the Fingers - Looking for Bruce (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Hammer No More the Fingers

Looking for Bruce (2009)


Usually when I see the name J. Robbins, I audibly gasp. Not always. I don't freak out when someone posts "J. Robbins wears pants" and then go, "I wear pants too! Yes!" But when it comes to the musics, there's gasping a-foot. Dude did time in Jawbox, Burning Airlines, Channels and Government Issue. He produced Against Me!, the Promise Ring, Discount, and [insert seminal punk band here]. If he asked me to run away with him to Paris and love him forever, I would do it even though I (A) hate the French, (B) have never met the guy, and (C) think I'm heterosexual dot dot dot question mark. Oh, and I love my girlfriend! She is nice.

Homoerotic fantasies aside, I respek the heck out of the guy. He's a good songwriter, and I dig his production skills as well. He's cleaner than a lot of underground guys, but he doesn't put too much gloss on songs either. So when I perused the liner notes to Hammer No More the Fingers' Looking for Bruce, I had a fanboygasm. OMGs flowed like so much milk and honey from the Promised Land.

Then I put the record on. Joy of joys, it thoroughly did not suck. Turns out this three-piece from North Carolina knows a thing or two about bringing the rock. The first two band comparisons that came to my mind were Archers of Loaf and, yeah, Jawbox, although there are elements of garage, post-rock and a less dance-centric Minus the Bear sprinkled in there too. I bet these dudes have excellent record collections.

Lyrically, the band isn't too revolutionary. The music is more compelling for its sound than in its emotional depth. "Mushrooms" isn't particularly great as a drug narrative -- "Give them water / Give them fertilizer / Give them love / Just don't give them to your kids" -- but it's fun enough. Other tunes, like the Detroit ditty "Automobiles" or "Fall Down, Play Dead," a tale of a guy who can't hang, are catchy. "Fall Down, Play Dead" gets better and better as it rolls along; it's a natural pick for a single.

The record is definitely front-loaded with the hits, as there is a noticeable downturn after the first five tracks. Still, Looking for Bruce's back half is solid. Taken as a whole, the record is a pleasing collection of '90s college rock. Hey, if it's cool with Robbins, it's cool with me.