New York state denizens Hearts & Hand Grenades have turned in an intriguing little number in the shape of new album Turning To Ashes.
Based around focal point Stephanie Wlosinski, who plays bass and sings with a pleasingly cocksure attitude and no little skill and poise, the band churn out immediately accessible pop rock nuggets for fun; mixing in a metal edge at times via some muscular riffing from guitarists Mike Bress and Kenny Blesy, the likes of For The Weekend just stop short of nu-metal gumbiness thanks to the committed performance of Wlosinski, who might just be a star in the making; the band are more at ease – or at least certainly more ear-friendly – on the less musclebound material. Bress adds keyboards to the mix at times which adds an early eighties, new wave veneer to some of the material that seems to suit the overall sound better. Daggers, for instance, pushes the melody to the fore yet still finds room for a fine solo from Blesy, who proves time and again that he knows how to fit a lead break perfectly into the framework of a song.
I Hide adds a bit of alt.rock to the stew, mainly through Wlosinski’s almost country inflections in the verses – she does something similar on the punky The In Crowd too – whilst standout track Nothing Left draws all the various strands together and seems to be where the band works best; taut, angular hard rock choc-full of the sort of chops most bands would kill for yet still with enough basic street appeal to snare those listeners who are just happy to have something to whistle whilst they go about their business. Most bands seem to opt for one or the other, so those who can do both are surely in the box seat from the get-go!
There’s a certain indefinable something about this band that won’t fail to intrigue you, and I’m certainly hooked after just a few spins of Turning To Ashes. I can’t imagine for a moment that all our readers will be as enamoured as me, but if you don’t mind the lighter side of rock getting into your musical diet every now and then I think you’ll find a fair bit to chew on here. Get involved!
Turning to Ashes releases on January 8th.