Hooded Fang don’t romanticize their process. Frontman Daniel Lee recently told Exclaim! that his songwriting feels a lot like digesting. Musical influences are nourishment, “and then we’re this little body here, and then the food goes in, and it goes through the guts, and then we shit it all out. And it’s steaming!” Gravez, the third record from the Canadian band, never gets quite as gross as that metaphor, but doesn’t refrain from wrapping its loose-jointed garage punk around itchy feelings.
Even a blitzed-out night on the beach runs paranoid between the walls of Gravez. “So many faces and they’re all the same/ Why you lookin’ at me?” Lee calls out on the hook of the album’s title track. It’s both an aggressive pose and a needy one: what is it about me that deserves love more than the next guy? But Hooded Fang quickly undercut that insecurity with a breakaway copy-pasted from early surf rock: sunny, meaningless syllables arced along a bright melody. Whatever it is they fear about themselves, they’re able to smooth it over with drugs, friends, and scrappy choruses.
Gravez is a lo-fi record through and through, deliberately and joyfully sloppy. Hooded Fang frays each needly guitar line, lets the bass spurt like an exposed muscle, and crashes every cymbal into a brick wall. Lyrically, Lee’s as focused on various body functions as he is in interviews. The record flows with blood and cum and lymph. “I run my fingers through an open wound/ Looking for a place to die,” he sings on “Never Minding”. This is teen poetry moroseness, but he doesn’t sound dour, rather mostly bored, even a little resigned. The song hides in the same space afforded by that Z in the album title. Yeah, we’re all going to die, and we’re going to hurt a lot before we do, so we might as well take a jab at our final resting places.
Like Clinic or Mind Spiders, Hooded Fang perforates their darkest parts with music that laughs at itself. They don’t tell us to cheer up, but they do ask us to smile.
Essential Tracks: “Graves”, “Never Minding”