BEST REASON TO WRITE YET ANOTHER FUCKIN’ RECORD REVIEW IN 2014…
HANS CHEW Life & Love LP (At The Helm, UK)
New York City is beyond privileged to have songwriter zealots Zachary Cale
, Ember Schrag
, David Shuford
and Hans Chew
calling the place home, playing out and about on Tuesday and Wednesday nights like it ain’t no big deal. But it is a big deal
- they’re all a big deal - because radiance of such caliber is an uncommon marvel. Fuckin’ Record Reviews had the good fortune this calendar year to witness many stellar shows offering a counterbalance to the slow gruel of daily indignities - Good Throb, Magick Markers, Pampers, La Misma, Hysterics, Coma In Algiers, Mordecai, Watery Love, WV White, Silk Purse, Elisa Ambrogio, Dreamsalon, 75 Dollar Bill, Matt Krefting, Vanessa Rossetto, Degreaser, Civil Union, the Gizmos (!) the Weirdos (!!), Destruction Unit, Excepter, Cale, Schrag, D. Charles Speer & the Helix, Guerilla Toss, Rhyton, Antietam…(we can go on and on of course, every one of these artists deserve fulsome blathering ) - but if we had to pick one single live music event
that impacted the most, it’d be Hans Chew’s delayed record release soirée in late August.
What Hans and his band accomplish is a rare and beautiful thing: somehow conjuring guileless magic from the intersection where Little Feat, the Pontiac Brothers/Liquor Giants and Goose Creek Symphony share combustible space and doing so without artifice or plundering, leaving room for Hans’ spectacularly personalized songwriting, singing and piano. It fills a black dirt heart with all the bittersweet joie evocative of nothing less than our three most cherished piano-flecked Hoyt Axton lps (Joy To The World, Country Anthem and Less Than The Song). Sure, name checking the aforementioned dinosaurs comes across like a wide eyed Mojo mag Americana column about corned beef hash, but fuck it. Hans’ tuneage is so exceptional - in the same impossibly distinctive manner as Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker’s songwriting in Wussy - we care not if Fuckin’ Record Reviews gets tagged from hereon in as NPR, Jr.
While the FRR editorial team often swims in the discharged post seduction fluids of reckless stumble bum daredevils barely able to hold their instruments, we hold no predetermined grudge against those who possess some fluency with how to play, i.e., those with actual musicianship. Hans Chew and his band can play like nobody’s business. There are swells and bursts, electric piano foregrounding, floppy boot stomps and stinging words about life and love and loss, so much life and love and loss and love and life. The crescendos of ‘Mercy’ have moved us from grizzled darkness to ebullience on more than a few morning commutes, so much so that we have to thank Hans right here and now for writing it and his crackerjack band - drummer Jesse Wallace, bassist Ricardo Ortiz and guitarist Dave Cavallo
- for commuting all over us. Most followers of Fuckin’ Record Reviews are not likely to have many records that sound like this in their subunderground lairs spackled with the blood of Aaron Dilloway and Gravel Samwidge, but if we could dispel our no-fi basement curse every now and again and bask in some sanctified rays, this’d be the band with whom we do it. Bravissimo on every front.