The Hammer Party


The Hammer Party Earth Abides CD

Jagged noise rock EP from this Providence band. Presumably named after the BIG BLACK record, the HAMMER PARTY has some pretty big shoes to fill, and does an admirable job holding the grimy torch. These four songs adhere to the “find a groove and play it into the ground” side of the genre in the vein of 400 BLOWS and MELT DOWNER, and they do it well. “Sterilize” opens with instantly gratifying snare pounds, a dissonant guitar lead, and raspy repetitive vocals. “Federal Reserve Blues” pairs a syncopated guitar riff over a skiffling jazz beat to great effect, always feeling slightly off and unpredictable. Final track “Walk the Walk,” featuring Rick Pelletier of SIX FINGER SATELLITE on wailing no wave sax, centers a hollow, loping bass line with growly, TOM WAITS-style vocals that build into a strange bluesy jam. It’s weird, but it’s good weird. If you worship at the scabby AmRep altar, this is worth your time.

The Hammer Party Smashed Hits LP

This sounds like the frustrated pulse of my angry, black pandemic heart. Providence’s the HAMMER PARTY apparently began as a BIG BLACK cover band and boast a pretty extensive pedigree including, but not limited to, SIX FINGER SATELLITE, the BEVIS FROND, and SILVER APPLES. That idiosyncratic resume did not prepare me for how gloriously pissed-off this record sounds. It’s lyrically brutal and literal and the songs grind out elements of UNWOUND, DRIVE LIKE JEHU, and SHOTMAKER, especially in the deep and crunchy bass. Like someone trying to destroy the lowest piano keys. Perhaps post-Kerr NOMEANSNO is the best comparison—especially in the brazen satire of some of the more odd vocal constructions. Songs like “Russian Collusion” may be a little on the nose, but it sounds so darn good. It works. It’s great to see folks who may have been around the block, but nonetheless spit out a record tuned to this time.