Allow me to be honest with you, dear reader. I, like any good writer, am hungover. My head feels fuzzy and my skin wants to crawl off my body. It could be said that I feel like Christian Slater did for his entire career in the 80s.
There is no better time to review HEATHERS latest EP, Strange Allies. It suits my mood. It is dirty and heavy, fuzzy and distorted, slow and melodious; it is adjective upon adjective used to describe something you like.
HEATHERS are a three-piece band consisting of Nikki on drums, Heather on guitar, and Helen on bass and lead vocals. Named after the Winona Ryder movie, Heathers, the band decided to record their EP track by track, as opposed to live off the floor like their previous albums. I find it gives the record a more complete feel, as you can hear that they took their time to nail down everything they wanted.
Strange Allies was recorded at Soundhole in Montreal by Patrick McDowall. Released in April of 2016, the EP is a quick three songs. “Gethen” is the first track you get. It starts with a mellow guitar riff, sparse drums, and an almost angelic vocal line. Don’t let that fool you, though; the second guitar comes in behind, hitting big chords chock-full of dirt until the 0:40 mark, where the chorus takes off. They label themselves as grunge, and it really shows here. It’s muddy in all the right ways. I like how there isn’t any wasted space in this song; each instrument is played with a purpose, fitting easily together to complement each other and, ultimately, the song as a whole.
“Hydra” is the second song, and while it holds the same tones and sounds as the first one, it’s faster and more upbeat. It’s my preferred track on the EP. I like how it opens with some cadenced guitar, and the slight switch in timing around twenty seconds into the song. From there it only gets beefier and ballsier. Clean vocals are shed in favor of furious howling, matching the intensity of the instruments and giving you that good kick in the ass that any chorus should.
The final track is called “Breaker” and it’s the slow jam of the album. It’s a mellow way to end things as you drift off to sleep on your pillow made of greasy hair and plaid shirts. The first couple of minutes of the song are wide open, as if allowing the empty space to say more than the instruments. There is a simple solo starting at 2:12 that continues with a raunchy reward lasting only for the briefest of seconds. It goes back to smooth, only to repeat the cycle two minutes later.
Overall, I enjoyed the EP. While the songs weren’t the most ear-worm worthy, they were well written and well executed. My only negative critique for the EP would be the drums. At times they were a little sloppy and sounded like they were missing a beat here and there. Nothing so drastic that it pulled me out of the music, but it grated on my ears all the same. Were the missed beats intentional? Only one way to tell. I’ll ask Nikki directly at their next show; it’s on the 31st of May at Casa Del Popolo. Sweetness.
Written by Aaron Deck
*edited by Kate Erickson