Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Album Review: Settler by Hardaway

Hardaway are a four piece band from Memphis, Tennessee. Influenced by the likes of Jawbreaker, Lifetime, The Replacements and Black Flag, among others, the band put out their debut EP titled Settler back in December of 2017. This was one of those brilliant Bandcamp Discovery discoveries where I clicked on the band purely because of their album artwork and I instantly knew I had made a great decision.

Settler begins with the song A Damn Decade. Starting out with just vocals and guitar, we are treated to a gruff punk song that fans of bands such as Red City Radio, Western Settings or Dead Bars will adore. It's a mid-tempo paced song that immediately cries out to be sung along with. Something I really enjoyed about the song is the use of gang vocals. They do this great thing on the verse when they switch between a lead vocalist and gang vocals on each line and it sounds brilliant. A Damn Decade is about wishing for your younger days when life seemed easier. The next song is named What's Worse. Here we have some more mid-tempo shout-a-long punk rock that I just love. This is that everyman punk rock that makes you believe you don't have to write these complicated melodies to create a great song. The passion that comes from the vocals is what hooked me into the song, they're rough and raw and, as soon as it started, I knew this was going to be a song for me. When I first heard the third song, Devils In The Dugout I quickly said to Emma (who was sitting next to me at the time) that this reminds me of the much loved and missed UK punk band Bangers. The deep, rumbling vocal style made the song boom out of my speakers. There is a downtrodden quality to the song where you feel genuinely bad for the band. This slow, plodding way in which the track plays out musically allows for plenty of emotion to come out of the vocals.

13point3repeating is the title of the fourth song on Settler. Beginning with a nice little drum roll that pulls you in immediately before we quickly transition into some more shout-a-long punk rock fun. The track is about drinking and getting high to escape from a bad relationship. The hook of the chorus is the standout portion of the song and is guaranteed to get a crowd singing along. The penultimate song is named About It/Out Of It. What a great chorus we have here too! It's bloody huge! With some fantastic gang vocals, the words "I'll be alright, I'm doing just fine, I've just got a lot on my mind" are repeated throughout the song and act as a great method of catharsis for anyone who needs to reassure themselves. This is a really powerful song. Last up on Settler is Journey To End Of East Memphis. (Do you see the play on the Rancid classic there?) The song starts slow and does a nice job of building towards its chorus. It's a song that looks back on the first time you met a good friend. It feels as if there is a great story telling element on this track and really helps you get invested in the song. This is a really strong way to finish a fine EP.

This is a really strong debut from Hardaway. Settler is a short EP is full of punk rock passion and energy. The raw sound keeps the album feeling grounded which I enjoyed but at times it did make the lyrics difficult to decipher which was disappointing. With a few tweaks in the production I think I've discovered yet another hidden gem thanks to Bandcamp.

Stream and download Settler here: https://hardawaytn.bandcamp.com/

Like Hardaway here: https://www.facebook.com/hardawayTN/

This review was written by Colin Clark.