Supergrass – Diamond Hoo Ha
Rock / Alternative / Britpop
No self-respecting record reviewer ever wants to admit that there’s anything he doesn’t know about music. Being a music geek tends toward being an introverted, introspective type; waving our dicks around about our knowledge of music is about the only macho activity in which most music geeks can participate (myself excluded, but of course).
That’s why it always catches me off guard when I’m presented with a record that exists in one of my “blind spots”. One of them is Motown—apart from knowing who Berry Gordy is and knowing the names of Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson, I don’t know thing one about anything that went on in Motown’s heyday and I break into a cold sweat when someone starts grilling me about it. Another big missing piece for me has always been Britpop—I’ve always caught little bits and pieces of what’s popular in rock over in England, but culturally, there’s very little that I can grasp about who’s who and who sounds like what over there.
That’s why Supergrass caught me off guard; I knew the name but I couldn’t swear in a court of law that I’ve ever heard them before. Imagine my surprise when Diamond Hoo Ha turned out to be a riff-driven and melody-rich trash-rock gem.
“Diamond Hoo Ha Man” kicks off the record with a ballsy buzz-saw riff and an impending-doom kick-drum beat that builds into the best Hives song that The Hives never wrote. Frontman Gaz Coombes has a 70s-decadent sleazy kind of voice that makes lyrics like “I’m gonna hightail / To the motel” feel as dirty and decadent as a song about a hustler should. The following “Bad Blood” and “Rough Knuckles” have a New York-classic vibe with an arena-size aim; in the current indie-rock scene Supergrass should easily be able to pick up some new fans on the trail that The Strokes and The Killers blazed.
Again, I don’t know a lot about what this band has sounded like over the course of its 12-year career, but if tracks like “The Return Of..” and “Butterfly” are any indication, I’d bet most of the scenester bands hot with the skinny-jeans set probably cut their teeth on some Supergrass records. At other times you hear where Supergrass followed the bombastic lead of bands like The Cult and Springsteen. “Whiskey & Green Tea”, inspired by a trip to Beijing, starts out with some Sgt. Pepper-styled silliness before building into a broad melodic double-time rocker with some subtle saxophone highlights. “345” has a jangly bass riff and a New Wave vibe that evolves; it’s Supergrass at their most pogo-friendly.
Call it now: I’m a Supergrass convert. While still pretty much young lads (they were teenagers at the time of their initial explosion in Britain) they have the seasoning and experience to make them old hands at this modern-rock thing. Recently both Coldplay and the Arctic Monkeys have tapped Supergrass to open for them, showing how they’ve inspired a little-brother generation of bands that rose up in their wake. This July they’ll be hitting the road here in America, opening for the Foo Fighters, and if one out of every five Foo fans is turned onto what Supergrass has to offer, then maybe we can cross our fingers and hope that they’ll become as popular here in America as they are in their home country.
Tags: Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay, Foo Fighters