It’s important to remember that, for every saturation cringe of “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “Stairway to Heaven,” there’s someone right now hearing that song for the very first time. You’ve got to let that happen because, as hard as it may seem after hearing the song a million times, it may be inspirational enough for that person to want to try and make their own “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “Stairway” at some time.
The Lonely H is the type of band that’s young enough to hear classic rock through a fresh set of ears and they possess the kind of enthusiasm to try their own spin on classic rock. Their sophomore album, Hair, demonstrates how they’ve done some great note taking when they began their immersion into classic rock’s fabled legacy. And like any band that starts their first tour almost immediately after graduating from high school, they’re young enough to fuck up a few parts.
I’m not talking about fucking up in the bad sense. I’m talking about listening to a Queen album and walking away with wanting to play piano just like Freddie Mercury. The rest of us, of course, would get all worked up at trying to get Brian May’s guitar tone or searching for a mic stand chopped off from the base about halfway up.
The band’s sophomore effort has the unfortunate problem of having a shitty album title and entering into an environment that’s not very honorable among their more alternative-minded contemporaries. The Lonely H is too naive to challenge the unwritten idea that new bands, particularly young ones, are supposed to stick with the classic rock riffing before attempting the progressive leaning stuff. I mean, you learn “Smoke On The Water” before you learn the solo to “Highway Star,” right?
Vocalist Mark Fredson alternates between unremarkable phrasing and Buckley-esque scales and the four musicians that support his epic endeavors do so with some impressive style, like they’re channeling Queen dramatics through chord progressions straight out of the Capricorn Records songbook.
Port Angeles, Washington is a world away from Muscle Shoals and, as a result, the Southern Fried rock sounds askew. Additionally, when the band does attempt to go full on progressive, like they do with the eight-minute epic “The Drought,” there’s very little cohesion.
Which is the primary complaint about Hair: it’s a sprawling work of a young band that doesn’t have the experience to know when to lay off and what influences to pull harder from.
By the time you reach the title track, Fredson is nodding to Isaac Brock, which is a shame because he’s a much better vocalist than Isaac Brock and by the next track, he’s putting on a Bryan Ferry tuxedo. Hint to Mr. Fredson: stick with the Roxy. Besides, you know Bryan Ferry’s shagged more models than Brock ever dreamed of, so there’s your dealmaker.
Offended? Well fuck, someone needs to get these whippersnappers to focus a bit. They have enormous potential if they’d only just blow my mind from a specific area.
They also need to be allowed to continue to discover those records that you and I may take for granted. Hair‘s redeeming feature is in its doe-eyed optimism which part of me hopes they never lose as they grow older.