Local Album Review: Whip Hands

Posted on October 09, 2012 in Album Reviews, Arts & Culture
By Sam Hill

The Whip Hands have been bouncing around the Portland music scene for quite a while now, playing live shows all over the city, from SPACE, Matthew’s and Geno’s Rock Club, to Casablanca Cruises, and even USM. This past summer they were finally able to record their first full-length album.
The album as a whole is reminiscent of the classic punk compilations featured on Tony Hawk: Pro Skater soundtracks. This is garage punk skater music to the core. The raw, heavy drumwork of Chris “Chainsaw” Hunter throughout the entire album makes you fight the urge to go out and do something extreme. Sterling Black and Thom Cote make quite the duo on guitars, whipping up some classic melodies while Dan Flynn provides the driving bass lines that come strong track after track.
The opening track, “Heavy on the Juice,” has been seen before, featured on the band’s demo Supercharged back in March. But this new version is quite an improvement, returning as a much more focused and polished work. “Money Is Honey (But Licks Stick),” has some of the most interesting guitar lines in local music, with Black and Cote playing call and response, fighting each other for the duration of the song.

The lyrics are simple. Just a repetition of the line “Tryin’ to wreck my head,” but it doesn’t take away from the track. The instrumental is complicated and takes you on a journey of its own, leaving you with a unique experience without complex lyrics.The last track on the album, “Johnny Smith,” tricks you into thinking they’re slowing down and abandoning the hard, punk flow they’ve created for the album. It’s a slow start and hard to listen to after you’ve been headbanging your way through the rest of the piece, but after a few minutes it picks right back up and ends with a bang.

You don’t have to be a fan of the genre to enjoy the work put into this album. It’s rough, raw and rambunctious, creating a powerful presence that is difficult to ignore. While the Whip Hands have recently disbanded, don’t miss the opportunity to snatch this album online on Bandcamp.