Heavy Hands

Author: Evelyn Miska
08/23/2006 | | | Album Review
They come from Omaha, Nebraska, which is what the (ne) in their name refers to for those that might be confused. Whatever listeners imagine a Nebraskan band should sound like is not what you'll get when listening to Heavy Hands. Ladyfinger (ne) is pure rock and their debut album shows promise, provided they can maintain their differentiation from the myriad other rock/thrash bands trying to break onto the scene.

The album begins with a pounding guitar riff underneath a low chant by Chris Machmuller on "Smuggler." From there, the song drives into a fast tempo frenzy with Machmuller on the verge of a scream throughout the rest of the track. Machmuller's voice bears a striking similarity to Eddie Vedder's, though the band's overall sound incorporates more punk and thrash than Pearl Jam ever did. "Smuggler" was a wise choice for the opening track and it is a song that just propels the listener deeper into the music.

The momentum that Ladyfinger (ne) builds during the first four tracks lags a bit on "Too Cool For School." The track is weaker than its predecessors are and the band's sound switches more towards early '90s hair-bands on the chorus. While that allusion doesn't permeate the entire song, the chorus is enough to dampen the more original sound they've got going during the verses.

The good news is that Ladyfinger (ne) didn't become fixated on the sound they attempted on "Too Cool For School" and the second half of the album returns to advances they'd begun making on the first four tracks. Machmuller tones down the near screaming on "Diet Smoke" and moves back to the same low chant that is present on "Smuggler." The song also includes some impressive guitar work by Jamie Massey, which is well paired with Machmuller's vocals. What is particularly nice about "Diet Smoke" is it demonstrates that Ladyfinger (ne) is capable of more than one particular sound and hasn't produced an album that is just one identical song after another.

There may be the occasional veer off-track on Heavy Hands, but Ladyfinger (ne)'s debut has a considerable number of songs demonstrating their overall potential. The second half of the album is stronger than the first, but that isn't to say the first five tracks should just be skipped over. Perhaps some discerning judgment is required for the first few, but careful attention should be paid to the second half of the album as it feels these are the tracks Ladyfinger (ne) hit their stride.
Heavy Hands

Heavy Hands

CD / MP3