Hawk and Steel- the name conjures images of wide-open landscapes and maybe a battle or two. It’s a name fitting for this Victoria, BC-area band whose sound shifts between alt-country, folk and indie-rock. The band’s three genre specialties certainly blend together well, and it shows on their debut disc, Danger Road.
“She says ‘The road’s a really dangerous place, but it feels good to me,'” says a line from the album’s title track. It’s a fitting line that describes the sonic shifts perfectly- the band will occasionally break out aggressive guitars and percussion but can, at other times, be soft-spoken and emotional. The title track is definitely leaning toward the latter.
The journey on Danger Road isn’t explicitly mapped out during the nine songs, but there are some interesting threads to grab on to. Opener “Matinee Idol” would be completely soft were it not for some glorious horns before the vocals come in. “I’m sorry I was such a fool to you/I’m sorry I was such a little child,” says the obviously regretful narrator. Later on, in “Telephone Calls,” a line says “What a fool I still am.” “Telephone Calls” shows more of the band’s alt-country sound, a sound haunted by the wails of pedal steel and the tinkling of an organ.
There are lots of other interesting stops on the road worth noting. “Ghosts” shows the band attempting an epic song at just over six minutes, and the song thrillingly changes from softer guitar chords to full-on loudness with percussion smashed and loud and proud trumpets rising above the noise. “What’s It For” is a great song about living life to the fullest, culminating with a prolonged, distorted guitar solo.
“Love That I Need” is another great alt-country song, and “Are We Strangers?” ups the tempo, as though the band is trying to fit a much longer song into a shorter time frame (though the song certainly doesn’t feel rushed or too sped up).
Danger Road certainly is a road of wonders, and Hawk and Steel have built up a fine first record to their name. Let’s hope the hawks continue to soar and the steel continues to sing. The album is available from Bandcamp.
Top Tracks: “Matinee Idol”; “What’s It For”; “Hot New Classics
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)