Review by Haley Ladd
There’s a lot to say about noise-pop trio halfsour’s “Charm School” EP, especially considering it’s only six songs long. Dreamy and fuzzed-out vocals float over driven, surfy beats with lyrics focusing on everything from the end-of-summer blues to a shady dude in a sketchy van. It’s difficult for any band to capture such a full sound as halfsour—and they managed to do it by recording in their practice space.
halfsour have proven themselves with this latest release to be true masters of musicianship; everything on the EP is so deliberate and precisely delivered that even the smallest moments can become something big and meaningful for the listener.
The EP opens with “Ten Year Tenure”, with bassist Zoë Wyner’s sing-song vocals questioning the value in staying somewhere stale. The song is an excellent example of halfsour’s ability to take something mundane and make it fun: plenty of songs have been written about staying somewhere that doesn’t hold a lot of merit, but few do it with the songwriting dexterity and voracious energy of halfsour. Has a song about laying on a couch ever sounded as cool as “Scenes from the Couch”? Possible, but unlikely.
If you’re tuning into halfsour for the first time, it may come as a surprise that their origins were as a Guided by Voices cover band. “Vinyl Siding” is perhaps the closest clue to the band’s origins when you take into consideration the fuzzed-out vocals. Another standout song is “Ice Cream Dinner”, the slowest and longest track on the EP, is like an ode to melancholy. Then again—it’s probably redundant to cite one song as a stand-out when it’s stacked up against five other outstanding tracks.
Each member of the three-piece has their turn on vocals, and it’s certainly for the better. Giving each member their turn at the mic is like a little peephole into halfsour’s charisma—it’s so much clearer how a band could punch so much energy into songs when you see the charisma of each individual working behind the scenes. The band’s ability as a whole to draw from a variety of musical genres make them perfect for fans of everything from the Vaselines to PWR BTTM.
“Black Dodge” bookends the EP perfectly: clocking in at just under two minutes, the final song on the EP is funny yet sinister; facetious but not frivolous. But there it is: Halfsour is like the cool older sibling you always wished you had, taking something boring and somehow polishing it off to make it unbelievably and effortlessly cool.
Our favorite Providence funeral punks, Hairspray Queen, are releasing their debut self-titled EP in January. Until then, they leave us with a taste of the full release with their single titled No Names. This track is relentless in all the best ways: frontman Raymond Fernandez’s hostile vocals are so hypnotizing and psychedelic, while the band’s guitarists Nathan Phrathep & Ian Benoit supplement with riffs that rock at many miles per hour. Hairspray Queen is unstoppable and No Names is just the beginning. No Names is up for listening on their Bandcamp and be sure to like Hairspray Queen on Facebook for more updates about their upcoming shows and releases. We know for a fact they will be back in Boston very soon and you will not want to miss it.
Back in July, we had the pleasure of hosting Hairspray Queen with LOVESICK, GAY SIN and the What Cheer? Brigade @ Grandma’s House (RIP). Deep Shred’s Andrew Gibson was there and was able to catch the set, which included a cover of Misfits’ London Dungeon. Relive one of our favorite shows below. Happy Halloween.
Photos: Madison McConkey