tremble clef

Monday, October 10, 2005

HAL, "Plays The Hits" (2005)

Castanets! RAT CLACK CLACK! They aren't enough castanets in pop music! Except in a million castanetastic Phil Spector records! But this is the best use of castanets since Thompson Twins' "Hold Me Now"! Maybe not, but at the moment I can't think of another well-known use of castanets! I can't seem to stop saying "castanets"!

Armed with a stupidly googleproof name (the band site is at, HAL is an Irish band which has been unfairly lumped in, at least in the UK, with The Magic Numbers. "Unfair," because they're not as consistently good. [RAT CLACK CLACK!] They certainly don't have a Mercury Prize nomination (ooh: snap). But their harmonic sound would probably lead the New York Times to include them in the "retro-rock" movement. That term does strike me as rather redundant [RAT CLACK CLACK!], since rock, as probably the least forward-looking genre of music (again: snap), is almost always retro, but we'll let that go. The Times appears to be using the label to denote bands that evoke the sounds of 60s and 70s soft-rock [RAT CLACK CLACK!], and indeed HAL counts The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Spector, and Nilsson among their biggest influences. Sometimes the emulation is a bit too straightfaced for my taste, but on this track, for example, there is a certain cheekiness that I enjoy. "Take a look at those guys/When they play the hits [RAT CLACK CLACK!] on the radio/And the pretty young girls/When they shake their hips [RAT CLACK CLACK!] on the television show." It could have been in the soundtrack for That Thing You Do! It'll make you shake your castanets!

At least I think they're castanets. Maybe you're just happy to see me.


Post a Comment

<< Home