Things maybe haven’t been loud enough around here for a while. Not that loud is an automatically positive value; lord no. But done with the right spirit, and with a concurrent sense of musicality, loud can be fun. Bashy and reverb-laced, “Hung Out” is definitely fun, and it’s definitely loud, or definitely should be. That’s up to you and your volume dial of course, but if you don’t turn this one up pretty high, it’s not going to sound right. (No, even louder than that. Go on, I’ll wait.) Listen to this too softly and you’ll just get thin, tinny, clangy, and indistinct instead of rich, resonant, three-dimensional, and mind-opening. Or at least sinus-clearing. And you’ll definitely miss the nuances of Howard W. Hamilton III’s crazy guitar solos.
I mean, check this out at 2:22: the solo’s already underway and now he introduces a motif featuring notes that are rapidly attacked but taken together sketch out a slower melody, a melody that, at high volume, rings out with unexpected melodicism, and then wow to how it crunches at 2:25 into an outlandish mondo-chord that has no business being there except that now it is. Somewhere within is the chord that the ear was expecting, and as it turns out the other chords that are packaged around it make the elusive “right” chord all the more persuasive.
Red Pens, based in Minneapolis, are Hamilton on guitar and lead vocals and Laura F. Bennett on drums and backing vocals. “Hung Out” is the lead track from Reasons, their full-length debut, which was self-released in June ’09 and then re-released by Grain Belt Records in the fall. Thanks to Largehearted Boy for the head’s up.