Album Review: Hot Snakes – Jericho Sirens

The last four months has seen a renaissance of post-hardcore comebacks. Earlier in the year, seminal outfit Glassjaw released an incredibly abrasive new album which led to a revisit to elder statesmen within the scene. Hot Snakes, comprising of member of Drive Like Jehu, have become the latest group of formative musicians to grace our audible senses once again – akin to messrs Palumbo and company there has been a large gap between their previous work, Audit In Process and this new release through Sub Pop.

Jericho Sirens has a point to prove; given the tenacity of the group’s previous works and their countless, hard work in the live scene since their reformation in 2011, there is an immediate urgency for the record to stay afloat amongst a plethora of other groups in this day and age who cite Froberg and Reis’ former collaborative efforts and influence in their work. Could such a long-toothed dog still have it’s day?

They do, and in keeping with the dog metaphor, Jericho Sirens has such an ferocious bite throughout the album that the fourteen year gap seems to only have distilled the angular nature of the group. Where the band admittedly looked to hark back to the protopunk era when they first started, there is that raw-boned acerbic flair throughout that marks it profoundly different than other paint-by-numbers garage rock acts that have gathered a more mainstream following for doing a lot less.

Opening track “I Need a Doctor” perfectly exemplifies this; simple lyrics howled through out with that raspy Rick Froberg tone along staccato-stab guitars with such surgical, angular precision. The discordant beauty of “Candid Camera” and “Why Don’t It Sink In” makes you wonder why many would try and pigeonhole them as a garage-rock revival act – the tracks in question have the ability to make us Nation of Ulysses fans return back to our old records… if it wasn’t for the fact that Jericho Sirens warrants our repeat attention immediately after the vinyl needle reaches the wash.

Where the more “conventional” tracks come into play (“Six Wave Hold-Down”, “Jericho Sirens”), they are done in such an eerie, off-kilter fashion that they become perfectly married with the overall pacing of the album. You can’t really call them respites given the amount of vitriol throughout their melodies. It helps I’m an Against Me! fan – there is that bouncing guitar work on the more, ahem, “poppier” numbers that is reminiscent to the incredible hooks Laura Jane Grace is renowned for. Perhaps an influence drawn during Hot Snakes/Drive Like Jehu/Pitchfork’s heydays?

It shouldn’t come as any surprise how fantastic the work is – 14 years between albums is a long time, but the tireless portfolio of work Reis and Froberg have created throughout their careers speaks for itself. What is welcoming is just how irreverent the band still are with their new release. It could have been easy to create a ubiquitous crowd pleasing record that either tapped into modern trends of into the zeitgeist of 90’s emo. Instead, how it draws from prior collateral but create an incredible energetic work is what makes it sound incredibly fresh and incredibly relevant.  

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