Lady Bones + Horsehands (Split Review)

by Steven Spoerl

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There are times when great music comes out of nowhere and seizes everything in its path without warning, leaving the listener scrambling to catch up with the destruction it left left in its wake. It doesn’t happen very frequently but when it does, it’s sure as hell worth writing about. Enter: Lady Bones and Horsehands, two Massachusetts bands who came together to release a split last year. Unfortunately, the band only managed to get that split out digitally initially. That didn’t stop either from trying to get it out into the world in a physical format, though, which is why (as of last month) the four songs from that split now exist in the world on a few cassettes.

As for the songs themselves? They’re everything anyone should want out of a DIY basement punk release: they’re impassioned, left-field, aggressive, catchy, and bordering on unclassifiable. All four nearly run the risk of toppling themselves over with great songwriting and clever arrangements. Lady Bones’ side kicks things off and the band wastes no time in hurtling themselves towards whatever the nearest object is to them. The nonstop riffing of “Courtesy Moans” growls and races in equal measure, baring an intimidating set of fangs while lodging its claws (read: hooks) deep. “Courtsey Moans” also sets up the woozy “Hoovah” perfectly, which carries over the decidedly darker tone of its immediate predecessor (one that matches the incredible artwork for the release, pictured up above). While “Hoovah” manages to maintain the pace and atmosphere of the split, it also succeeds in showcasing Lady Bones’ range, offering up a slightly more varied take on their approach without losing any impact. If anything, a lesson that can be taken away from this is that it only takes two songs to hear the sound of a band arriving.

Horsehands’ side more than holds up, plummeting the dark atmosphere into even greater depths while continuing to expand the release’s sonic palettes. It’s still an unmistakably Boston kind of sound but, as “Flagstone Sonogram” proves, that’s not something the band holds sacred. Coming off as nightmarish as it is poppy, the song’s the audio equivalent of a kaleidoscopic fever dream that’s terrifying in the moment but revisited fondly later. Again, impressive musicianship is on full display as the arrangements weave in and out of each other with tact and grace, creating a unique sound that complements Lady Bones’ songs without overwhelming them. “Hot Pants Nose Bleed” hits a lot more directly than “Flagstone Sonogram”. proving Horsehands to be another band with dynamic range and an able command over it. It’s a short, sharp blast that rounds out four songs that play into each others strengths as well as any four possibly could while also being incredible as standalones. It’s not difficult to imagine these bands having as much clout as, say, any of the flagship bands over at Exploding in Sound, in the very near future.

Listen to both sides below and make sure both of these bands are on the radar because this is music worth hearing.