Now a five-piece (former Juno bassist Gabe Carter has joined the lineup, giving Marrs room for more versatility) and having just released their second album, Young Days (this time on Suicide Squeeze), Hint Hint have grown musically by leaps and bounds. Their Cold Crush debut, an EP aptly called Sex Is Everything given its raw power, was the product of quick and off-the-cuff recording. Says Quirk, "I wrote most of the lyrics right there as we were doing each song." Surely, that's what helped give Sex its pulsating urgency. But when it comes to Young Days, there's a noticeable sense of elegance within. Songs might begin with lovely piano intros provided by Marrs, before the rest of the musicians blast in; other times a short drum solo kicks off a track; or all the members may come in at once with a powerful announcement of unity. Though Hudson took hiatus from the band for a few months (and has since returned), this lineup is tight and together.
Two things stand out on Young Days in comparison to Sex Is Everything, though, and those are a distinct, pervading melodicism and Quirk's softened edges and decipherable lyrics, which strive to be evocative as well as gripping. Opening with "Natural Collegiate," Quirk paints a metaphoric tableau of terror and stasis with lines such as, "All thoughts are contagious revelries/brilliant boxing matches/between what's right/we summon the beast only to tell it/it's time to move on from the beach/towards the plains/like arms in a pirouette." Later, as in "Long Branch, New Jersey," the imagery is coldly romantic and the music is sweeping in that joyfully uneasiness Hint Hint have carved as their niche. I love the title "A Curse on You, Dear," and the song's ambiguous take on the futility of trying to do battle with the heart of another, a track loaded with unspoken language conveyed through bonded instrumentation. Given the growth shown between Sex Is Everything and Young Days, I can barely wait to hear what comes next. Hint Hint's record release show is May 26 at Neumo's with the Detachment Kit, the Fitness, and the Lights.
The Seattle International Film Festival is upon us again, and every year there's at least one rock-related film that those of us who aren't on the ball with the more diligent film devotees kick ourselves for missing. This year, I suggest you check out Dig!, a sometimes sad but often hilarious look at the love/hate relationship between two "challenging" bands, the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Narrated by Dandy Warhols singer Courtney Taylor, who clearly believes that Brian Jonestown Massacre singer Anton Newcombe is a visionary musician, Dig! gives both Taylor and Newcombe plenty of rope with which to hang themselves, although Newcombe seems to walk around with a noose permanently tied around his neck. There are also shots of frustrated members from both bands (mostly Newcombe's) as they throw up their arms in disgust at their respective leader's views and methods, and as per usual, there are shots of the often naked Warhols keyboardist Zia McCabe, though not as many as I was expecting to see. As Dig! starts out, the tone is that anything could happen, but it's only a few minutes in that you begin to get that itchy feeling that Newcombe's notorious mental illness is going to fuck things up for both bands, and once that happens, the film becomes as hard to look away from as it is to look at. It's pretty damn funny, even though at some points you feel like an asshole for snickering. I loved the film, even as I remembered that awful tug-of-war tour the bands staged at the Crocodile for a night of roaring insaneness years ago. Check The Stranger's SIFF Notes for Dig! show times.