WELL HUNG HEART ‘THE STATE OF AMERICA’

The one dollar bill on the CD cover has been modified to read ‘THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA’ and George Washington’s portrait has been defaced to make him look like a clown. The day after I missed out on the opportunity to buy a copy with full cover artwork, due to all 40 copies having rapidly sold out, I decided to write this review. I was able to purchase a copy of the CD without a cover, and this came with the facility to download the tracks so that I could listen while waiting for delivery from ‘across the pond’! The next day I was watching Channel 5 news and saw one of a series of items being run during the week entitled ‘The State Of America’, they had a reporter out in the US presenting a series of features examining how President Obama was being viewed ahead of the the 2012 Presidential Elections.

The EP is was recorded by Well Hung Heart, a collaboration between Robin Davey and Greta Valenti, who are based in Orange County, California. Their ReverbNation page lists them as ‘Alternative / Grunge’, whilst on FaceBook they describe their genre as ‘Musak’, a tag that is so clearly wrong; there is no way that any of these tracks could masquerade as soulless and anonymous ambient background music. Currently touring in the UK, it seemed to be a good time to review an excellent EP. As well as having a distaste for being pedantic about genre labelling I also hesitate to draw comparisons with other acts; so I will break all my rules and state that the first track, ‘BULLs#!t’ immediately brought to mind – Sleigh Bells and ‘noise pop’. That said, the second track wiped all such thoughts from my head, whilst the others took me in different directions again. This is what I most appreciate about acts such as Well Hung Heart – they aren’t afraid to cross genre boundaries. Listening to the second track made me realise that I have become so removed from ‘mainstream’ music that I had to do some research to enable me to confirm that the original version of the cover, ‘Creep’ had been recorded by Radiohead!

So how did I receive the opening numbers? The first clearly has to remain something for private appreciation due to lyrical content due to my need to follow station guidelines when compiling playlists for my shows. This should not greatly concern Greta and Robin; their video for the third track, ‘The Music Made Me Do It’ was initially banned from YouTube after 6 days and 12,231 views; a combination of minimal nudity and anti-Pope lyrics are cited as reasons for the ban although other videos featuring much more nudity appear to be allowed to remain on YouTube, so the lyrics were more likely to have been the source of contention. In an apparent change of heart the video has not been taken down since being re-posted.

The opening track is an out and out assault on the senses; and is clearly reminiscent of the brash ‘noise pop’ purveyed by acts like Sleigh Bells. But things aren’t allowed to dwell here as the second track begins with more than a hint of fragility as Greta falteringly explores the emotions associated with the lyrics of ‘Creep’ before cranking up the energy as the track develops to a blistering crescendo. Towards the end of ‘This Is Not Love’ something familiar comes out of the speakers; on listening again it can be identified as a brief inclusion of lyrics from ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’, masterfully woven into the track. The set is billed as having been recorded “all live from our living room”. This helps to give the tracks a wonderful feeling of intimacy.

Writing about the songs, Greta says, “well they are each about different things but all about my life and the things I encounter physically and emotionally – the current songs are about pain, love, abuse, loss, fucked up people doing fucked up things, and having no fear.” A lot to fit into six songs, but I believe she has succeeded in detailing her impressions of ‘the current state of America’ as she sees it. There is no elitism here, from the blasting introductory lyrics about “calling in your bullshit, bitch”, via a marvellously dynamic interpretation of ‘Creep’ that showcases the breadth of Greta’s vocal skills, through ‘The Music Made Me Do It’, ‘Play Me A Song’ and ‘This Is Not Love’ with its referencing of The Righteous Brothers to the modestly titled ‘We Rule The World’ . This EP is an excellent example of the diversity of Well Hung Heart’s work and clearly showcases Robin’s guitar skills, Greta’s emotionally charged and powerful vocals all supported by solid and sympathetic drumming from Scott Miracle. Each track withstands individual scrutiny and can be appreciated on its own, whilst fitting equally well into a carefully compiled set. All told, this is another welcome addition to my music library.

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