(hooker) - Grey EP (CD)

Hookersounds HSCD02, released April 2005

For a while now I've been raving about Manchester band (hooker). Why? Because they rock, that's why. It's so immediate, simplistic yet addictive and many other superlatives that I could throw at them. A tight three piece you'll be harder to find that work so hard, and some eighteen months after their untitled album (the Black EP) with six tracks. Six tracks might seem a little on the less generous side, but the impact here is simple: get a few tracks out there on regular occasions, charge the punter around a fiver and sell them at gigs to cut the overheads as much as possible.

Now I have my hands on the CD, and it's time to give it a spin. First off is the slow burning Alligator, which sets the tone nicely for the whole album: punchy vibrant drums from Danny Sharman, a really gut wrenching bass line from Mat Skinner with the crunching riffs and vocals from Zoe McVeigh. And none more so than in the middle part of the tune where the vocals take a break and there's just the bass and the riff pounding along very nicely. As does the whole track. And no break either, as you're straight into the short but sweet Pushing Me, with some nice distant guitars in the mix during the chorus parts. Simplistic it may sound in composition, but it keeps the whole punk ethos by being short and getting to the point with some more crunch on the guitars, maybe even more needed here.

Lay It On You is a live favourite, with Zoe's voice in excellent form as she really shows the passion and emotion before the bass comes in and really makes the whole thing sound low down and dirty with the cymbal crashes of the drum just adding the immediacy of the feeling straight forward. So Low has a really neat drum introduction that gets you into the mood before there's another good vocal performance, and sounding quite evil with it. Nice Pixies-esque touch in that the verse chorus parts are generally quieter bit followed by louder bit, and I found that most pleasing on the ear as a real diehard fan of that band, and the tune growing with passion in each verse - especially near the end.

What You Are reminds me a bit of Dirty Mess off their first mini album, it has that real slow feeling with some gargantuan bass taking over proceedings with Zoe's vocal piercing through very nicely until the guitars and drums kick in and really give it some pogo-ability. There's also some good instrument breaks between each section of the song which give the song space to breathe. But nothing compares to the final track, Shake It Up, which is such a chugging anthemic song, even if at the start of each verse it reminds me of Blondie's "One Way Or Another" (no bad thing as I love that band anyway.) Nice mix too with all the opening guitars really setting the moves with the drums sounding nice and tight throughout. It has that rather chugging feel which made so many indie bands around the late 1980s have so many good tunes, and this is no exception. The chorus is so simple yet it really works because of the delivery of the whole thing, much like the album.

I've enthused enough, but suffice to say this is impressive stuff. Thirteen minutes it might be, but the whole thing draws you in and gives you short sharp bursts of most excellent rock that you soon forget you put the CD on and have listened to it on repeat play a few times, such is the impact. I really believe in this band and if you can grab yourself a copy of the CD, I think you will too.

Warren's rating: 91%