Song of the Day

Hammered Hulls, “Written Words,” from Hammered Hulls (Dischord Records, 2019)

If you’re browsing No Echo, it’s unlikely I need to preface this piece by waxing nostalgic about the legacy of Dischord Records, the DC-based institution responsible for a tireless and custodial approach to music and art. Any treatise on the lasting importance of both the label and city’s role in punk and hardcore, however gushing, feels like an understatement.

Their latest release, Dischord #188, is the upcoming S/T 7” from Hammered Hulls, feels in many ways a celebration of their exhaustive discography’s evolution.

Though I’m loathe to use the word “supergroup”, the collective resume of the band is eye-poppingly impressive. Comprised of Mary Timony (Autoclave, Ex-Hex, Helium) Alec Mackaye (The Faith, Ignition, The Warmers), Mark Cisneros (Medications, Chain and the Gang, The Make-Up), and Chris Wilson (Ted Leo and the Rx, Open City); Hammered Hulls is decidedly unique. I’ll attempt to keep the shipbuilding metaphors to a minimum, but there’s something immediately utilitarian and about lead single “Written Words” in both assembly and execution. 

Photo: Claire Packer

Propulsive and throbbing from the opening seconds, they clearly have a handle on the more driving and frenetic end of post-punk. At times straight ahead and others a bit more liberated and angular, the myriad influences coalesce in a way that feels both necessary and celebratory, as if these musicians have long awaited the opportunity to collaborate.

Anchored by the taut rhythmic backbone of Timony and Wilson, there’s ample room for both Cisneros and Mackaye to find lockstep. The furious but tempered interplay is absolutely perfect, splitting the difference between noisy post-hardcore and the more elevated jazzier end of early ‘oughts Dischord. Lyrically, “You got to hammer them home” is repeated nearly ad infinitum, the desperation of which only builds as the aggressive and abstract sonics stretch to their limits.

The restlessness and urgency of the recording is perhaps due in part to the workmanlike brevity of the session itself. Recorded in but a single day with Inner Ear’s Don Zientara and the other Mackaye, one can only hope an equally essential full-length is on the horizon. Impossibly busy even at half, Hammered Hulls will be displaying their finest wares in Baltimore on Aug. 28 and Brooklyn, NY the following night. 

Tagged: hammered hulls

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