Saturday, December 3, 2011

REVIEW: Gauntlet Hair – Gauntlet Hair

I know a thing or two about bad band names. In college I played in a band called In My Shrubbery. In high school I played in a ‘metal’ band with such an unintentionally bad name that, even though I had nothing to do with thinking it up, I’m still too embarrassed to divulge it here. Sometimes a band name becomes bad passively, simply through the incessant unfolding of human events. It was thus that my current band’s name, Jerry Sandusky’s Army, suddenly went from totally great to decidedly not great. We are trying to rename the band right now, and I have thrown out the idea of calling it Grim Carnes, as a nod to our death metal cover of “Bette Davis Eyes”, which is a crowd fave. You have to admit that’s a pretty great band name. Yeah, I think so too.

And then there are bands with names that are so randomly, yet cleverly, bad that they are actually awesome. At the top of this list is Gauntlet Hair, from Denver by way of Chicago. In October, this band with the awesomely bad name released an awesomely good self-titled debut. The band records as a twosome – Andy R. on vocals, guitars, bass and keyboards, and Craig Nice on drums and drum effects – and tours as a foursome. Forced to hybridize, I’d call them a cross of Wu Lyf and Abe Vigoda (both cool band names). That comparison might stem mainly from all three bands’ heavy use of delay pedals, creating that beautiful spacey, chiming guitar sound. Check it out on the brand new video for the second track, “Top Bunk”, featuring ze govanatah:

Gauntlet Hair - Top Bunk. from Neighborhood Watch on Vimeo.

The CD’s liner notes say the album was recorded in Andy’s grandmother’s basement. The acoustics of the production suggest Andy’s grandma lives above an airplane hangar. I mean that in the best way possible. Anyway, there’s really not anything close to a throwaway track on this album. Here’s the official video of the album opener, “Keep Time.” The last break in the song (at around the 3.00 mark of this video – where it looks like the bearded mime or goth hippie is about to get killed) is pretty close to musical brilliance.

As if they needed more of a seal of approval than plaudits from this blog, it’s worth noting that they’re signed to Dead Oceans, which is without question one of the best indie labels out there (Destroyer, Citay, Tallest Man on Earth, many more). And it’s worth noting that Dead Oceans is based in Bloomington, Indiana, the same town that gave us one of the best band names ever, John Wilkes Booze. Is this mere coincidence? If you said yes, consider that the mayor of Bloomington’s last name is “Kruzan”, which has exactly the same number of letters as the name “Oswald”. And Arnold Schwartzenegger, star of the video "Top Bunk", was married to a Kennedy. If that makes you nervous, and it should, you can just chill out and listen to this:

Gauntlet Hair's Dead Oceans page

Gauntlet Hair's very own band site which is not all that current (the sign of an in-demand touring band).

Gauntlet Hair on Facebook

Check out all the great bands at Dead Oceans

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