BY JASON GROSS
Though his background is an obvious news hook, what makes this Palestinian/Filipino skater special is his palpable commitment to roots rock, where he’s found a good kindred spirit in the form of producer Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys). HEK’s second album makes him sound more confident, distinct and comfortable in his own skin but thankfully not more fancier than his 2011 debut, which sounds like a warm-up in comparison now. “Family” is rightfully the lead-off single as it’s a crank-the-car-window, blasting rocker and “Penny” is a sweet ‘60s-pop flavored follow-up.
Most of the rest of the time, he follows Auerbach’s lead with clean, powerful stompers full of dirty guitars, shout-along choruses, rumbling drums and even some dandy hooks to go along (with some occasional soulful keyboards), making for a great formula and a winning sound. Jack White — take note.
DOWNLOAD: “Family,” “Penny”