The Beatings: Holding on to Hand Grenades

THE BEATINGS: HOLDING ON TO HAND GRENADESThe Beatings

Holding on to Hand Grenades

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If greater success eludes The Beatings with the release of Hand Grenades then there is no justice in the world. On Hand Grenade the band combine the spiky astringecy of their biggest influences with a deft melodic sense that makes their best songs refreshingly sweet and tart at the same time. Every song on the album is better than those on their previous EP, suggesting that they are growing quickly as songwriters and arrangers.

Like many of the recent generation of indie rock bands, The Beatings thrive on tension. The Pixies’ signature loud-soft dynamic makes up a large part of their DNA, but they add new dimensions to this by-now routine strategy by adding Sonic Youth-style sheets of noise and by using three singers, one male with a brittle monotone that can burst into melodic (almost-)screaming, one male with a high and thin voice, and an occasional contribution from bassist Erin Dalbec who (in the best Kim Deal/Kim Gordon tradition) acts as a burst of sunshine over the grey-blue musical landscapes.

Guitarists Tony Skalicky and E.R. interweave their turbulent guitar lines over powerful drumming from Dennis Grabowski. All bassist Dalbec has to do with so much going on is add drive and punch to Grabowski’s drumming; that she is able to add harmonic interest is just icing on the cake. The muscular sound drives the fast songs and keeps the slow ones moving along, and the band create gorgeous textures to go with the turbulent rhythms. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a band before who could sound like Public Image Ltd. and Galaxie 500 at the same time, but I’m glad to have had the chance.

It’s not as if Boston’s punk tradition needed saving, and it’s not as if The Beatings need their talent affirmed by comparison with the greats of that scene, but it’s true: if ever the world needed an heir to Mission of Burma, Galaxie 500, The Pixies and so on, The Beatings are it, and on their own terms. Holding On To Hand Grenades is an impressively self-assured statement of purpose that should be the Beatings’ entry to the World of Bigger And Better Things.

John Owen, Blogcritics

MDRF007 | JAN 2006 | 61:45 | Full Length CD
SONG TITLE DURATION LISTEN
01. Intro to a Responsible Person 1:21
02. A Responsible Person 4:20
03. This City is Killing Me 4:25
04. Upstate Flashbacks 5:43
05. Feel Good Ending 3:34
06. Stockholm Syndrome Relapse 5:20
07. Harry’s Wild Ride 1:02
08. Remedial Math Rock 5:28
09. Scorched Earth Policy 5:02
10. CoIntelPro 1:34
11. Oh Shit, My Phaser’s Jammed 1:44
12. Pennsyltuckey 5:05
13. Don’t Flake Now 0:59
14. False Positive 5:33
15. Burn Down the Jungle 4:28
16. Villains 6:07