Author: Andy Pareti
Heavy is the burden that alternative-metal bands have to carry in this day and age. The poor guys just want to get their rawk on, and here all the hipster spokesmen just pound them to the ground, telling them to go back to 1999 and trash some once-proud outdoor music festival. It's so easy to see it coming, and the sad part is that most of the time, the hipsters are right.

But wait, Ladyfinger (ne) isn't playing by the rules. They aren't painting targets on their chests and awaiting the media to fire flaming arrows at them. Maybe Saddle Creek Records, home of Bright Eyes and Tokyo Police Club, wasn't so crazy to sign them after all. (In case you were wondering, the "ne" comes from Nebraska, their home state.)

The band practices no-frills riffage that is in line with Queens of the Stone Age or label-mates Cursive. The band has been compared with Motörhead, but while this is quite a kind gesture, it isn't very accurate. Ladyfinger (ne) don't have that brutish, grindhouse taste of rust in their sound. It's more polished and clean, but that doesn't mean it isn't heavy.

Nor does the band possess quite the sense of humor to have the tongue-in-cheek charm of Queens of the Stone Age, but they are almost as relentless, and sheer power often can go a long way. Consider back-to-back mortar shells "Little Things" and "Two Years" as an example, the former a standard but catchy gallop that catches aflame after its false ending and the latter a battle hymn that is served well by its understated solo.

By keeping things so straight-laced, Ladyfinger (ne) actually avoid the pitfalls so many of these post-grunge bands fell into. They don't try to rap, they don't have a DJ, they don't wear make-up, they don't build songs around guitar solos … no, they are pretty much just plain hard rock. Their vanillaness should be a criticism (in some ways, it still is), but since it seems to be the only remaining avenue not already ruined by passé ghosts of metal music past, it leaves rabid critics little ammunition against them. Bland, it seems, is the new black.

A perfect example of another band that has used this approach and survived is the Foo Fighters. FF actually labored on through the craze of nu metal and rap-rock and have managed to outlive all those bands, and they did it by refusing to cling to a niche or follow a fad. David Grohl must know something that surprisingly few rockers know: if you want to rock hard, just do it. Whether it is a subconscious understanding or a learnt fact, Ladyfinger (ne) know this, too, and it is the one thing that saves them from almost certain mediocrity.


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