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Friday, May 26, 2017

The Real Hooks - Damn You (2017)

Written by Frank McClure, posted by Jason Hillenburg

Artwork by Odandiee

The latest single from the family act The Real Hooks, “Damn You”, should further consolidate their position as one of the top pop rock acts to come along in the last quarter century. They’ve won over countless fans since their 2009 formation with an effortless combination of musicianship, understated humor, and an energetic music presentation that never seems to lack for charisma or life-affirming passion. Their 2013 debut EP Everybody Up! testified to all of those aforementioned qualities and their willingness to seek out talented songwriters and musical collaborators to make that material and everything since come to life with a special sort of vividness is further testimony of their commitment for crafting first class, audience pleasing fare. This is a band built for success and to entertain scores of listeners – everything is polished to a high sheen, but there’s enough rough and tumble grit in what they do that it never steers too far away from rock and roll.

It almost sounds like a folk song with the way it opens up. Jangling acoustic guitars set an inviting tone for the song before it transitions into a full band effort and the vocal harmonies, along with the song’s inherent melodic content, are the primary movers in making this song so successful. It isn’t simply the lockstep qualities of their harmonies, however. It’s more the sympathetic way their voices come together. The variety of voices combines beautiful moments of musicality and melody with a distinctive sense of character that no other band working today so readily shares. Vocal performances, too often, place the singing in direct opposition to the arrangement in an effort to create tension, but there’s an elegant and spirited seamlessness with this song that is infectious from the start, Kyle Hooks is a memorable guitar player and a great singer in the making, but he’s surrounded by equally talented singers who help him shine a little brighter.

The band’s drumming Raleigh has impressive percussion talents for someone so young and he’s a real pulse setter for the band with a nice combination of finesse and power. He’s much of their rock and roll heart, but that attitude comes through thanks to a mix of the band’s instruments and efforts. Their tongues in cheek songwriting qualities are never sophomoric. Despite their obvious intent to play for pop audiences, they have a sense of humor that never panders to the lowest common denominator and the sound glitters with superb attention to detail. The band is working with some real heavy hitters now and the results show through. The Real Hooks are making tremendous strides with each new move they make and are obviously ready to break through onto the biggest stages capable of containing them. “Damn You” is an exemplary effort from beginning to end.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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