Perhaps the most startling
symptom of this generation’s crop of new musical acts rising up from the
American rock underground is the poor decision making skills when it comes to
choosing a name for themselves.
And right up there with The War
On Drugs and Gang Gang Dance is the Denver-by-way-of-Chicago duo Gauntlet Hair,
a handle that is more implicative of some God-awful Renaissance Faire metal
group from the mid-‘80s rather than the abstract nature of the damaged art pop
intrigue created by singer/guitarist Andy R and drum programmer Craig Nice.
This case proves to be a most unfortunate one as well, because these guys make
some pretty stellar sounds together, an assessment based upon repeated
revolutions of their eponymous full-length debut on the Dead Oceans imprint.
Conspired in their Windy City
origins at Andy’s grandmother’s house, Gauntlet Hair the LP is otherwise
a fantastical recording, a complete artistic metamorphosis from the pair’s
raw-dog early 7-inches for Forest Family and Mexican Summer that finds Andy and
Craig refining their edge to reveal the silver lining behind their inherit
sonic clutter. Where scrappy squalls of fuzz once took up residency in their
songs, a wholly unique compound of Diplo-esque 808 club thump, Vini
Reilly-educated guitar chylification and a songwriting style reminiscent of a Person
Pitch-era Panda Bear fronting Shudder To Think is presented in its place to
maximal effect on songs like “Showing” and “Overkill” and
fits right into the Mile High City’s Rhinoceropolis scene alongside the likes
of Pictureplane and Woodsman (two much better-sounding monikers, mind you).
It’s hard to imagine
multi-layered instances of reverberating melody like “Top Bunk”,
“My Christ” and “Mop It Up” as being the work of just two
guys inside of an old family abode. However, if you can move beyond their goofy
nomenclature, you will discover one of the most exciting acts Young Weird
America has introduced to us yet. Just remember, it’s not too late to
rechristen yourselves, fellas.
DOWNLOAD: “Mop It Up”, “Overkill”,
“Showing” RON HART