PREVIEW: Cut Off Your Hands before you go to the beach
by Bob Pember
On June 22, the New Zealand band Cut Off Your Hands will be bringing their emotion-driven post-punk to The Media Club, just in time to join up with the relief and relaxation of Vancouver’s early summer weather. Personally, I’m glad that I’ve discovered this band early in my beach-going so that I’ll have something new to blare while throwing a Frisbee and hiding beer from the police. The music is wisely kept simple and short which should, again, run smoothly with the instant gratification provided by these sunny times.
Photo credit: Elizabeth Weinberg
The band comes from Auckland where they originally gained attention under the name ‘Shaky Hands’. The name-change was forced by the threat of legal action on behalf of a Portland based act of the same name. Their new name implies that they’ve since cut off their ‘shaky hands’ and are eagerly urging you to do the same. Newly christened, their music is prepared for a North American audience with songs structured in a familiar yet melodically creative style. My first impression of their sound was that it’s what The Strokes would have sounded like if they took the route of feelings and cheerier pop riffs.
Nick Johnston (lead vocals) channels a Joe Strummer sound that fits their often romantic but peppy take on modern rock. The rhythm section of Phil Hadfield (bass) and Brent Harris (drums) maintains a dance-ready drive throughout their most recent LP: You & I. Released in 2008 in New Zealand and early 2009 in North America, the album is the band’s first full-length contribution. It’s comprised mostly of guitar-steered three minute upbeat songs, appropriately seasoned with fuzz, pulsing bass lines and cymbal crashes. The album’s third track, ‘Oh Girl’, a classic ‘boy totally loves girl’ story, displays the band’s speciality of making bare-bones rock clever and entertaining. The accompanying lyrics are heartfelt but on the playful side of trite – nothing too heavy weighing the song down. Cut Off Your Hands takes the alterna-angst one step further into a more sincere realm with softer tracks such as ‘In the Name of Jesus Christ’ that also delve into some more complex subject matter.
Cut Off Your Hands are having fun with the structure that post-punk has laid out for them by keeping close to the rudiments of that genre. They ought to feel comfortable bringing their music to Vancouver – I think that concert-goers here are ready for a reason to dance to rock again. They’re arriving in Vancouver just in time to soundtrack whatever epic story you’re starting for your summer and to help when it all ends up in sunburns and solitude.