At first glance, Hooded Fang can easily be mistaken for the old grunge punk you listened to with the sole purpose of aggravating your parents, what with their gritty distorted guitars, hard fast rhythms, and chantey vocals. But Fang manages to incorporate a thin layer of precision and musical arrangement with moments of easy pop rhythms, as well. And with their third studio album, Gravez, the band continues to misguide the average listener and ultimately surpass our expectations.
The four-piece Toronto-based band earned their stripes when their 2008 EP, EP, and their 2010 debut LP, Album (both of which were self-released). They started getting airplay through CBC Radio, and despite their lack of formal training, earned them a nomination for the Polaris Prize. Just last year, the band found acclaim for their debut U.K. release, Tosta Mista. Their buzzing guitars and light pop synths matched with lead singer Daniel Lee’s somber vocals to draw comparisons to bands like Broken Social Scene and Say Hi.
Released May 28, Gravez, seems more amplified and dimly lit than the band’s predecessors, with moments of upbeat tempos and gritty guitars of surf pop, to memorable tracks of intense, chill melodic arrangements and lyrical content flowing easy and true through Lee’s deep vocals. ‘Never Minding’ is a chill whirlwind of light organs paired with surfy guitar riffs and Lee’s infectious oohs in the background; creating an effortless and almost lazy sound. More of this is found in tracks like the indie-pop infused and potential single, ‘Bye Bye Land’, as well as the lyrically melancholic, ‘Wasteland’, which offers a sense of sadness in the lyrics juxtaposed with quick riffs and Lee’s doot doot doots: “This general / Fills grims of darkness / I really lost you / I killed my morning star.”
And even with these moments of indie-pop brilliance, the grit is still present. Standout tracks, ‘Sailor Bull’ and ‘Trasher’, show immediate elements of heavy, fast-paced yet dark rhythms. The opening track and first single, ‘Graves’, is a prime example of the band’s underlining talent, with haphazard headbanging riffs that soon corner you into perfectly structured melodics and ba ba bas. Gravez, much like my personal highlight track, ‘Genes’, will make you fall in with it, then out of it, then back with all over again.
Hooded Fang’s Gravez is currently available on iTunes.
Check out their website for current updates and touring info!