Hot Snakes – Automatic Midnight
February 15, 2000
What It Sounds Like: A mix of post-punk and good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll, with a nod to some post-hardcore noise elements. This isn’t screamo, don’t worry; Leader Rick Froberg plays the guitar and provides vocals at the same time. It is, however, clanging and aggressive. Not music for when you have a headache.
Rick Froberg and John Reis knew each other from when they played in Drive Like Jehu together, and this seems like what I would have sonically expected from a new venture of them together: the clanging punk and energy that we always knew they had in DLJ, but with less hardcore (why repeat yourselves?).
If you like noisy post-punk (which I do), parts of this are even had to swallow. The energy is turned up pretty good thoughout the entire run, and while we have decent tunes here with some unique guitar work, I can’t say that a ton of it is entirely memorable, even though it certainly has its enjoyable moments! From the simple alternative-punk drive on 10th Planet to the, well again, alternative-punk of Past Lives, we find that it gets harder and harder to tell this stuff apart.
It’s kind of a shame, since I’m a big fan of the two main guys in this band. They simply need to learn to come up some a little more melody than just driving, clashing, punk and noise. I’m a fan of Our Work Fills The Pews, which tones the noise down, but keeps a sexy guitar riff and drumbeat that is actually able to be discerned from the rest of the pack. Noise is good, but when it’s filled with simple power chord after power chord, you need to add a little something else to the mix to keep it from being too repetitive.
Their later work, while never being one of my favorites, certainly improves. I enjoy this from time to time, but I’m much more a fan of their other projects, such as Rocket From The Crypt, Sultans, and (previously mentioned) Drive Like Jehu.
It’s good for a spin once in a while.
If you had to listen to two tracks: Our Work Fills The Pews / Let It Come