Out getting high on the back porch
I sing to the empties and cigarette butts
And I know that the song is about you
And I’d sing to your face, but I’ve got no guts

Okay we’re all adults here, let’s get the obvious out-of-the-way so we can have a sensible grown-up discussion about Ladyhawk.  There’s a nude chick on the cover.  Yup, settle down there at the back! We’ve all seen it before. It’s nothing new.  This is art, not titillation.  I said ‘titillation’, not ‘titty elation!’. Right! I can’t believe how silly you’re all being about this, we’ll see how silly you think it is when I take your lunch breaks off you!

Ladyhawk 01

As I was saying you can tell its art rather than sleaze because said chick has a mask on and is dancing in a woodland clearing carefully furnished with significant objects, arty ones.  Oh and copies of Black Mountain and Neil Young Trans, as well as the of-far-more-use-in-the-woods big box of Pilsner.  The back cover photo has the band on it instead of the natural redhead from the front cover, in a shot that has been reversed for reasons best known to the band; one of whom sports a London Lords T-shirt.  Yup, Canadians! I’m guessing this is what they get up to in the woods at the weekend, all of them probably.  True story.  Or maybe this is just how folk rolled way back in 2006.

Ladyhawk 02

For once this was accidental nudity rather than, my more usual planned variety.  I heard of Ladyhawk, from Vancouver^, as being friends of and something akin to label mates Black Mountain, who I was rather partial to – in fact Amber Webber and Josh Wells both appear on the album.  So imagine my blushes when I tore open the mailer, dear reader, before I realised it was art and therefore totally justified.

There are similarities here with Black Mountain’s back woods rock style, but there’s a bit more Neil Young running through these veins than the Sabbath, or Velvet Underground influences on Black Mountain.  I really like their sound actually, we get some good plaintive man vocals and some unflashy but rather tasty twin guitar slinging.  I can barely think of an isolated guitar solo on the LP but Ladyhawk beef their slightly alt-country tinged indie rock up with some proper six string muscle, which makes sure the blood pumps through the veins to keep it from coagulating; mostly.

Ladyhawk 05

For a case in point see my fave track ‘The Dugout’ a good spritely rocking stroll, a bit reminiscent to my ears of Buffalo Tom in their prime*.  The singer pleading for a significant other to let him know how she feels ‘Turn your light on / Turn your light on me’, it’s wonderfully played and sung and there is a crackle of real emotion in the speakers, as well as a good minute of sparking, overdriven guitar coda.  It’s a high-rotation number here on Fabulous  1537 FM: All Godzilla, No Filler.

Ladyhawk 04

I really like the production on Ladyhawk, they capture a great, warm sound – fuzzy enough to avoid being clinical, clear enough to avoid becoming sonic soup.  In fact the whole first side of the album is pretty damn great, ‘Long ‘Til Morning’ (atmospheric, slightly spooked) and ‘Came In Brave’ (aggressive drunken self-loathing**), really rocking it up for me.  Plus I can only award 1537 bonus points for the song title ‘My Old Jacknife’.

Trouble is, this is very much an album of two sides and they crammed all the good stuff on the first side.  The playing is still really good, the sound hasn’t diminished, just the quality of the song writing.  It all goes a bit Lemonheads in a couple of instances and I like the Lemonheads, but on their own records.  If I had to pick one I’d plump for the closer, ‘New Joker’ which sidles up to grunge respectability but doesn’t stir the Cosmusiconaut in me.

Proof that listening to 'Trans' all the way through can make you take all your clothes off and dance in the woods
Proof that listening to ‘Trans’ all the way through can make you take all your clothes off and dance in the woods

So there we have it, one side of excellence and another side of, well might as well listen to the first side again-ness.  They also win bonus points for being named after one of my favourite (at the time, but almost unwatchable now) movies.

501 Down(y).

Ladyhawk 06

PS – Not to be confused with Ladyhawke, New Zealand born songstress, whom I also like.

^Kelowna, BC to be precise.

*anyone else remember them? or was it just me?

**source of the opening lines here.

32 thoughts on “Ladygarden

  1. Being a full 50% Canadian I can confirm that, yes, we do frolic in the buff in dense woodland areas, especially along the Niagara Escarpment, but only during Springtime. Weather permitting, of course. And, being only 50% Canuck, I was not afforded the privilege of full nude frolicking. The native Canadians made me keep my shirt on.

    1. I read somewhere that seasonally premature frolicking claims the lives of up to 319 Canadians every year. I’m thinking of organising a charity record and gig to raise awareness of this menace.

    2. That varies by region. Sometimes it’s pants, others its shirt. Frolicking needs rules, otherwise it quickly devolves into cavorting and, frankly, we’re a civilized country, thank you very much.

  2. We could have seen Ladyhawk in concert, and in a tiny club. We were in the building as paying customers already, and they were just taking the stage and playing their first couple of songs and… we left. We’d seen what we were there to see already, and didn’t know who this Ladyhawk were, and…. True story:

    Anyway, I am prepared to now accept all incredulity, disbelief, and mockery of our short-sightedness.

    From this I am to understand I should (belatedly) seek them out. Black Mountain is already on my To Get list, too.

    Another one well done, sir!

    1. I offer only gentle mockery, you tall fool!

      Yeah its good this, especially first side. Black Mountain are really great in places too, really great.

      And thank you.

      1. Tall? Nah. Just slightly above average – enough to hit my head on some things other people can walk right under, but not so much I can’t fit in the car. 😉

        Two more bands on my list! Dammit, this blogging is getting expensive…

  3. Thanks for specifying Kelowna – it’s like the Live 8 from 2005, the “Toronto” show was actually in Barrie, Ontario but at the time I suppose it wasn’t quite so globally recognized!
    The deconstruction of titillation, genius

      1. Ha! I can’t I’m still too upset after England beat us at rugby earlier on this evening – I’m anaesthetizing myself via Hawkwind (on headphones).

    1. Tell you what Mike, you really don’t look the way I thought you would do without your shirt on!

      Oh yes, if this doesn’t snare a few passing wankers (present company excepted, of course) then I don’t know what will!

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