Gildan's Guide to Good Music
The world of music is a vast ocean of crap - join me on a voyage to the tiny isolated islands of excellence.
As the tagline not so subtly suggests, it's really easy to find terrible music - you have but to turn on your radio, and lo, bad music abounds. The good stuff though, well that's rarely quite so easy to find, and while some popular music actually deserves the accolades it receives, most excellent music languishes in comparative obscurity. And that's where I come in!
If it's thought provoking, epic, eccentric, or exceptional (or possibly all of the above), I take it upon myself to write about it in the hope that at least one of the comparative handful of people who actually read my rambling and
rampantly egotistical definitely quite humble reviews will find it useful - or if not useful, at least momentarily entertaining; I take what I can get really.
Today I've decided I'll finally get around to writing about a group I'd originally suggested I might talk about quite some time ago.
Musical Genre: Hard Rock
Running Time: 56 minutes
# of Tracks: 11
Particularly noteworthy songs: Rapture, Overdose, Falls Apart
Unlike just about all the bands/projects I've discussed in this guide so far, there's a semi-decent chance that you've actually heard of Hurt, or at least heard them at one point - despite their mostly underground status, they have had a few singles that garnered some minor radio play here in the states (where they hail from). That fact hasn't gained them much in the way of name recognition though - critical acclaim certainly, but not widespread commercial awareness - but nonetheless: you might have actually heard about them prior to reading this.
For those of you who haven't encountered them before, Hurt is a hard rock band that originally crystallized in its current form with the release of their self-produced and self-titled debut CD in 2000, which they followed up with another limited run album "The Consumation" in 2003 prior to their 'discovery' by a label executive and their subsequent signing to Capital Records; under the auspice of that label they then produced the album this article is about as well as the follow-up Vol. 2, before being unceremoniously dropped (more on that later).
Currently a 5-member ensemble (drums/percussion, bass, rhythm guitar, lead guitar/piano/backing vocals, and lead vocals/guitar/violin), frequent line-up changes have left lead vocalist (and guitarist/violinist) J. Loren Wince as the only consistent element throughout the years Hurt has been active. As for the music they play, well it would be easy to just put "Hard Rock" down and call it a day, but that's only going to give people a highly inaccurate impression, for a very good reason: Hard Rock is a medium rife with cliches.
Now as someone who enjoys Hard Rock quite a bit, those tend to be cliches I actually like, but there's no denying that labeling something with that moniker has the effect of instantly providing an (in most cases) eerily accurate impression in a reader's mind of what the band will sound like. That... doesn't really apply in Hurt's case - probably the best single descriptor would be "Art Rock", except there are a great many aspects of that descriptor that do not apply in this example, not the least of which is the bit where calling something "Art Rock" tends to put folks in mind of the Progressive Rock bands of the early 70s, as "Art Rock" and "Progressive Rock" were in fact terms used essentially interchangeably to describe those bands. I can therefore no more describe them as such unqualified and have you think they sound like Pink Floyd or Rush (which they don't) then I could leave the "Hard Rock" bit unexplained and allow you to automatically assume they sound like something in the neighborhood of Shinedown (ordinarily a logical enough assumption, as most hard rock bands generally do sound like that (for the record: I like Shinedown quite a bit)).
In point of fact, presenting the band as something they are not is a large part of the reason Hurt's relationship with Capital Records (prior to that label dropping them without explanation in 2008) was so acrimonious: the label marketed them as a Metal band when they are nothing of the sort. So how do you go about accurately describing this band's sound? Well for that I will turn to... myself! Specifically something I wrote about them months ago elsewhere:
Yours truly had this to say back then:
If you're not familiar with the band already, forget what you think you know about groups that get labeled as hard rock bands, Hurt make a habit of defying convention and eschewing the rather tired cliches that most bands in their genre adhere to religiously.
They'll employ techniques reminiscent of alt-metal or nu-metal one moment, and cut to a soaring orchestral crescendo the next, mixing in tempo changes, quiet acoustic passages, tortured screams of anguish juxtaposed with soulful crooning, and then segue back into more traditional hard rock forms - all in one song.
Essentially it's what you get when a classically trained violinist who grew up in a household where 'Rock and/or Roll' was forbidden encounters the medium later in life and takes to it enthusiastically - hard rock approached from a standpoint that echoes the compositional emphasis found in prog-rock, but for very different reasons and rendered in a notably different style; there's a level of earnestness and authenticity to Hurt's eclectic compositions that sets them apart from music that's unusual merely because it can be.
The result is music that, for an audience approaching it with a mindset like my own, is absolutely bloody fascinating, and anything but the predictably formulaic fare one comes to expect from bands in their genre; the average Hurt song is still a uniquely powerful and emotional masterpiece. But don't take my word for it, give these tracks a listen!
With any luck, somebody reading this will take away from it knowledge about a band they did not know know about which, thanks to my rambling account, they now also know they happen to enjoy. One can only hope!
And with that boys and girls and implacable machine intelligences from the dystopian far future who have stumbled upon this whilst sifting through the ashes of our contemporary culture, another entry in the only Guide to Good Music that claims to be 100% salmonella free draws to a close - tune in next time when I review... well... okay, haven't actually narrowed that detail down quite yet, but I'm sure you'll enjoy whatever it is I write about next regardless!
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