EP REVIEW – Hagana by Hagana

*****

Hagana by Hagana

Hagana by Hagana

Within the first five seconds of this excellent release from Hagana, you know exactly where this Edinburgh-based trio are coming from.

The monumental riffs of She Said crash down like a tsunami on Rockaway Beach as the band surge through three and a half minutes of nigh-on perfect punk pop.

With it’s ten-foot high dirty bass, sandblasting drumming and churning guitar, it’s an opener from a band confident in their ability to shake tunes from the trees like coconuts, and it lodges in your head after just one listen.

Sometimes, it can be fun to imagine what videos to songs should look like. For the relentless driving power of Act Like A Shadow, a vision appears of Hagana in a big shiny red Tunesmobile, being driven by the Banana Splits at 120mph towards the edge of the Grand Canyon.

It’s a standout track on the EP, with a sound which pays homage to the likes of Rocket From The Crypt and Queens of the Stone Age, yet still sounds unmistakably the band’s own, thanks to frontman Leo Fox’s strong and razor-sharp vocals.

Drummer David Chisolm’s revving rhythms power the gigantic tune forward as David Jack’s bass and Leo’s guitar push the metal to the floor as they speed towards that Thelma & Louise ending.

It’s also a perfect example of the production values of the recording as a whole – rich, solid and loud, perfectly suiting the band’s plug-in-and-crank-it-up attitude whilst still allowing the music to shine through like a lighthouse in Hagana’s perfect storm.

A slight change of style if not pace next with Back For More, with its echoes of early Squeeze and post-punk rock bounciness. Spiky, spunky, punky and perky, it’s a great big cheesy slice of topping on the band’s meaty Big Hag & fries.

Wait & See surfs up next, with a gentler, 60s-tinged sound. Immediately, Hagana whisk you off to some Californian shore, where they cavort around in shorts and flip-flops, strumming their guitars to create a soundtrack to some happily hazy beach party. If anything, it’s a little out of place surrounded by the other harder-jawed tracks on offer here, but on its own it holds its head up high.

Hagana’s love for ska surfaces next on What You Do. Evoking the spirit of their live comrade Phil Ramsay – often seen adding his own unique brand of madness and trumpeting to the band’s onstage presence – the track sees the band firmly back on Rock Island, defending its shores with angular guitars and a massive big defensive seawall of a tune.

Stuck ends the EP with a completely different mood. A lovelorn and loveless duet between Leo and R&B vocalist Chloé Amber, it sees the pair sitting on the sand watching their final sunset together, as the gently chiming guitars lap at their feet.

It’s moving, shimmering and as sparkling as the disappearing light on the waves: a melancholic yet perfect end to a day at Hagana Beach.

This EP is one of the strongest I’ve heard for a long time. Hagana’s tunes have a way of getting under your skin and the first two tracks in particular blister like sunburn.

Whilst the band are the first to admit they have been guilty of keeping their talent buried in the sand for too long, this release should see them sailing off into the sunset – and towards well-deserved success.

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