It is a matter of rare serendipity that two bands that you rate so highly come together to produce a split LP, but such a thing has happened with this new release from Hawkeyes and The Radiation Flowers… two Canadian bands who really know how to get you right where it matters in the heart of your musical appreciation… which is released by Cardinal Fuzz and Sunmask.
I first came across Hawkeyes through the split they did with Shooting Guns (a band with more than a loose connection to Radiation Flowers), entitled ‘Brothers of the Nod‘. As you can see from the above photo, they are a six piece… and these guys really rock. In addition to ‘Brothers of the Nod’, the band’s ‘Poison Slows You Down‘ is one that regularly gets a spin on my turntable… especially when I’m in the mood to just let go and really put my mind out there.
Hawkeyes have contributed two tracks to this split, both of which have left me liking them even more than before. ‘Atom Heart Motherfuckers Never Learn’ is an amalgam of track titles from Pink Floyd and Shooting Guns, but the track itself is pure Hawkeyes, a relatively slow and heavy stoner epic that thunders on for a good twelve minutes and never lets up. In fact there’s one section in the middle that massively goes for it in a maelstrom of screaming guitars, breaking the track up nicely and totally nailing the whole thing for me.
The second, shorter, track ‘Creator Destroyer’ begins very differently with really gentle acoustic introduction that gradually intensifies into a track that has a heaviness to it yet remains quite delicate in its approach. There is less ‘sturm und drang’ here, with the music often teetering on the edge of dropping into am abyss of screaming stonerisms. Yet the band retain control and play well with that edginess. This is the sort of track that really bears multiple plays because is reveals its qualities slowly.
What ‘Creator Destroyer’ also does is tune the ears for the lighter, but no less satisfying, sound of Radiation Flowers; a five-piece whose music is simultaneously deceptively light and deceptively heavy. Their opening, ’33 Floors Up’ track is marked a terrific organ-led psych-riff instrumental that will have you wigging out from the first bar to the last. If this track does not get you up and moving about then you’re either dead or soulless (or both).
After that comes ‘Never Fade’ an upbeat and sun-filled track which will surely lift the moody of anyone listening to it. The subtle and soft vocals of Shelby Gaudet really stand out with their ‘Psychic Ills’ delivery, but in reality the whole track just screams warmth and positivity and, sitting here on the warmest day of the year so far here in Yorkshire, it is making me long for months of thawing my mood and chilling out. It’s doubtful whether the weather will play ball here, but Radiation Flowers will certainly help make that happen.
Last up is ‘Always on the Ground’ another wonderful slice of chilled out and laid back psychedelia. This track is deceptively complex, and while I want to say it’s ‘Shoegaze’ I feel that there is more to it than that. Here, as with the other Radiation Flowers tracks, there’s also a latent heaviness that takes the whole thing somewhere else. Sure fans of Shoegaze will love this, but there’s a wider audience for this too… I really hope that audience finds it.
This is a really great split LP. For me it was always going to be given the bands involved. However, I feel that both bands have really stepped things up here and, although a listen to their previous albums might suggest they might struggle to put out something that would be in any way coherent across both sides, I feel that they have organically developed their respective sounds in a way that has retained their distinctiveness while at the same time putting something out that feels to be right.
350 copies on eco colour vinyl with full colour printed inner sleeve. Limited CDr release in vinyl replica jacket.