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The Hat Shoes - Differently Desperate CD (album) cover

DIFFERENTLY DESPERATE

The Hat Shoes

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

2.92 | 3 ratings

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Pnoom!
3 stars Rating: B-

As a general rule, supergroups seem to fall flat on their faces from clashing egos. In the case of The Hat Shoes, which notably contains Tom Cora (Skeleton Crew, etc) and Charles Hayward (This Heat, Massacre, Quiet Sun), however, this is far from the case. Instead, we are given one of the most refreshingly original CDs I've heard in quite a while. Apparently, they have a more recent CD out, but I've not heard it yet. I will vouch for Differently Desperate all day, however.

Describing the sound is the biggest obstacle I'll have to overcome in this review. Tom Cora gives violin performances similar to his work with Skeleton Crew, only with more passion (I've always found Skeleton Crew's music somewhat lacking in that department). Charles Hayward does what Charles Hayward does, which is create amazing drum beats left and right, providing yet another reason that he is among the greatest drummers avant-garde rock music has ever seen.

Don't think this is going to sound like anything else Tom Cora and Charles Hayward have done, however. This album's greatest strength is that it sounds like very little, if anything, else out there. Charles Hayward's drums are generally fairly post-punkish, but this is combated by the use of melodica and violin, and, most obviously, zeuhl-esque vocals courtesy of Catherine Jauniaux. Some songs are atmospheric; others are more blatantly energetic, but all are excellent.

As with so many avant-garde CDs, Differently Desperate benefits from stellar diversity. The three song sequence starting with "Sugar Sugar" exemplifies this. "Sugar Sugar" is a rock affair, pure and simple, but played in an off kilter manner that keeps it from being completely comfortable. Then we have "Tchakoh," which features very bombastic vocals with an atmospheric background. If that's not enough, the next track, "Skinny Moon," uses percussion in a manner that foreshadows some of La STPO's music.

While I like every track on Differently Desperate, the one that really stands out in my mind is "Experts," largely due to Charles Hayward's biting political lyrics. That man just has a way with words (I regard Deceit by This Heat to be the greatest lyrical effort of any CD I know), and that's seen in full force here. To top that off, Hayward gives one of his trademark vocal performances, delivering passion into every note but doing so in a wonderfully abrasive manner. Other songs are also interesting in these regards, but "Experts" really epitomizes the strengths of this band.

Pnoom! | 3/5 |

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