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review: THE hardship post, _somebody spoke_

hi netters.  i promised a review of the new
hardship post cd a long time ago.  i was going to
post it on the release day a week ago but i had
just arrived back from my trip, blah blah blah.


first of all, i just want to say, if you can get
your hands on a promo copy of this record, hang on
to it.  it is labelled as "hardship post", because
the "the" didn't get tacked on until the retail
version, and sebastian lippa is listed as "johnnie cox",
an appellation which fortunately did not get carried
over to the retail release.  someday you can sell your
promo copy for mucho bucks.  :-)

all these minor shifts in band identity are following
on a *musical* redefinition of the band.  for those 
of you who haven't been following the hardship post 
story all along, hardship post started playing halifax 
about the same time sloan net came into being, back in 
early 1993.  the first time i went to see them, i 
slagged them on sloan net.  "too much like nirvana," i 
said, or something to that effect.  at the time, 
sebastian was doing the hair-in-the-eyes tilted-head 
sing-scream-sing-scream kurt cobain thing to 
perfection, but it was boring me.  once i got to know 
the songs, though, and once they started to develop a 
more original sound, i had this big infatuation with 
the band.  my first rock interview was with sebastian, 
and i just had the greatest time doing it.  he was
polite and open and articulate and charming.

the _mood ring_ cassette had a bunch of great songs
but they didn't re-issue it because of that nirvana
factor.  instead they went and recorded the _hack_ ep
for murder which made available another batch of good
songs but didn't really fairly represent the band's
potential.  rick white's recording prowess doesn't 
seem to extend to bands that don't share the 
ericaesthethic.  (still a record worth buying.)

it was evident even before _hack_ came out, when i
talked to sebastian, that he wanted to go in more
of a pop direction with the band.  we talked about
eric's trip and about how they seem to be able to
do both very loud and very soft songs successfully,
and he said that he wanted to be able to do that too.
"at first, i just wanted to *rock*", he said, seemingly
amused by himself.  

this new lp, _somebody spoke_, is the first recording
this band has released that really documents the band
as sebastian wanted it to sound, i think.  but suddenly,
_the coast_ is talking about hardship post's "new sound"
as if their slow change hasn't been evident for months
and months.  in fact, i've heard various  people complain 
that they don't like hardship post anymore 'cause they just 
don't rock the way they used to.

there were, in fact, a couple of hardship post gigs that
i saw that left me rather, well, underwhelmed.  but at a
recent birdland gig i think the band really demonstrated
the live potential of their record.  the rock songs rocked,
and the pop songs, um, "popped", and "the" hardship post 
convincingly demonstrated, at least to me, and seemingly
to many people there, that the band can evolve and still
hold our interest.

so here's my take on the new album, song by song:

"new wave" - classic hp riff rock song but stripped down
	to bare essentials.  very naked-sounding guitar track.  
	suitable for dancing/pogoing unless you're one of these moshers
	who has to wait for seb to step on the distortion pedal.
	actually, i think mike plays guitar on this one.
"garbagetruck" - actually very similar to the first song.  except this 
	time you get distortion pedal plus a spurious "motherfucker". 
	two bonus points.  :-)  i think sebastian has just always wanted
	to use that word in a song.  :-)  one of the rockingest songs on
	the record.
"what a day" - there are two songs called this on the record.  this is the
	"unhappy" version.  it has this big buildup at the end that refuses
	to climax.  won't go over well with people who get freaked out by
	coitus interruptus.
"capability" - one of two songs with mike pick on lead vocals.  he sounds
	kinda like iggy.  i like this one.  i like 70s bowie, iggy, lou,
	and this song is definitely in that category.  
"watchin you" - hp once did a cover of "birthday" by the beatles and i
	think they decided to use that kind of beat on this song.  it comes
	in just under two minutes, so it's a daring choice for first single/
	video.  then again, there's a lot of short songs on this record.
"your sunshine" - one of three ballads on this record.  sebastian has no
	problem crooning convincingly.  they do a more upbeat version of this
	one live.
"my secret life" - the other mike pick song.  i really don't like this one
	much.  even the overt sloan reference doesn't save it.  :-)  this
	one also sounds like seventies pop, but not like any bands that i
	actually like.
"what a day" - the upbeat one.  one-and-a-half minute punk song, and definitely
	my favorite song on the record.  quintessential hardship post, any era.
"just for little" - another ballad.  not as strong as the other two.  i think
	this is one of the few songs from the record they didn't play live last 
	time.  it really sounds like one of sebastian's acoustic solo numbers.  
	most of you on the list have probably never heard him do an acoustic 
	set, but they definitely have their own flavor.  he used to do this 
	really cool song called "reminds me of the first time i kissed a girl". 
 	i'm off on a tangent now.  :-)
"slick talkin jack" - one of the oldest songs on the record, i think.  i'm glad 
	they re-recorded it for the record because the 7" version sucks.  they 
	picked the wrong song to do the stripped-down thing.  this song cries 
	out for some distortion and here it gets it.
"if i..." - the third crooning ballad.  i don't remember jon dacey's rules of
	rock very clearly but if there isn't a two-ballad-per-album maximum 
	rule maybe there should be.  :-)  i guess it all depends on how strong
	the material is.  this song isn't any better or worse than say "what's 
	there to decide" by sloan.  when it comes to soft songs on a punk/pop
	record there's still nobody in the maritimes that can beat eric's trip.

so now that i look back on what i've said, i guess there's 8 out of 11 songs
on this record that i really enjoy.  i guess that means i can safely give
it four stars out of five.  :-)


     _James R. Covey <jrcovey\!/ac.dal.ca>_    sloan net is a discussion of the
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