Heat Dust – [10” EP]

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Do you remember how it felt the first time you heard Dinosaur Jr.? It felt good and weird all at the same time right? You probably picked up on the band because somebody  told you were the greatest band ever to come out of the independent rock underground. You probably liked punk rock at the time, so the idea of checking something like that out sounded good to you. Why not? New music is always good.

So you started listening – and you had a hell of a time reconciling what you heard with all the stuff you thought was cool at the time; you liked it, but you weren't sure if you should.

That was always the perfect barb that the band had at its disposal. The thing about Dinosaur Jr. was always that, as underground and punk rock-identified as they've always been, they've also always managed to needle some pretty awesome classic rock sensibilities into the music they make – so what you get is a sound which aspires to be the most enormous and bombastic little thing in the world. For some of us, it has always felt like a guilty pleasure, but those taken in by the experience would never dream of walking away from it – it's just that good.

The concept of producing a perfectly gargantuan little noise which is really easy on the ear has been the exclusive province of Dinosaur Jr. up until now – but those who discover Heat Dust's self-titled EP will be elated to discover that NOLA-bred noisenicks Heat Dust have snuck in and captured a bit of the same magic that makes Dinosaur Jr. so great for themselves and encapsulated it in the five songs which comprise their new, self-titled debut EP.

Without bothering to really warm up, Heat Dust just starts running from the moment the needle drops into “Sleeping Call," which opens the 10''. There, the guitars are sinewy and nervous, perfectly compliment Clayton Hunt's fadey, distracted and self-conscious vocal performance. In that combination, there's no question that listeners will be won because there's no doubt that the band wants to give itself over to the sound they're making completely – but they aren't confident enough to let go yet. That epic, anthemic hesitation is what will get listeners hooked on the Heat Dust EP for the duration, guaranteed.

…And as soon as they're on, that's when the band feels compelled to shock them! After “Sleeping Call” fades out, “I Was Afraid Of Dying” shatters more than a few sets of senses with a couple of volleys of ear-splitting feedback cut with thick, grainy and overdriven guitar which would be terrifying were it not coupled with a lyric sheet so innocent (scan lines like “I was afraid of dying, but now I'm not”) that even the most cynical of scenester trash will feel their hearts melting. They'll find they've fallen hopelessly, head-over-heels in love for the band – even when the group sends a few more bolts of feedback through their eardrums again at the end of the song.

Because “I Was Afraid Of Dying” is such a show-stopper of a song, unfortunately the totally subdued foot-dragger “Let Them Give Up” gets totally overlooked even though it closes out the first side of the EP. That isn't to say it's bad, just that it's not special; after the run that “I Was Afraid Of Dying” turned out to be, “Let Them Give Up” just feels like the throwaway track included to let the band catch its breath.

Happily, after “Let Them Give Up” runs out the clock on the EP's A-side, the B-side picks up with what may very possibly be the best indie-pop gem not written by Lou Barlow, “Priority Mail For An Asshole.” The song truly does resonate with songwriting genius; loud/soft/loud dynamics and scruffy overdrive in much the same way that many grunge bands did as they prospected for platinum in the Nineties, Heat Dust echoes Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Screaming Trees and The Lemonheads all at the same time; the guitars ring with tarnished brilliance and the dynamics of the song are a thing of beauty. Listeners will still be glowing from the experience of hearing “Priority Mail…” as “Thick Distance” shuffles its way through, exhausted to close out the EP but, while some would call that ending weak, the highlights on the EP far outshine any dimness and leave listeners satisfied.

So how does one quantify Heat Dust's self-titled EP? Well, even though only three songs out of five are really must-hear material (the first and third on the A-side, and the first on Side B), those three are so good that it would be impossible not to call this debut EP both essential listening and a must-have for any and all indie rock fans. If the band is able to keep its energy as high as it is on those three when they go to record a full-length, Heat Dust may later become regarded as the first noise made by the newest and brightest rock stars on the scene.



Heat Dust's self-titled debut 10'' is out now on Texas Is Funny Records. Buy it here , directly from the label, or get the music for a name-your-price download here on the band's bandcamp page.

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