After opening the package containing this CD, I immediately flashed back to my youth. Besides being a music freak (and not just any sort of music freak – I was a blues snob. Didn’t listen to anything but blues music of the ’50’s and ’60’s for about five years) I also was a huge comic book fan. The various titles featuring the superhero Batman were my favorites. I think I was into Batman the most because he didn’t have any super-powers and seemed to accomplish everything by the use of his wits and the physical prowess he had honed himself. Later, I realized he was a lot like a musician in this way. Creating viable songs, intricate arrangements etc. takes an immense innate musical aptitude and becoming a master of your chosen instrument requires a physical prowess most people cannot achieve. Why I immediately thought of comic books upon checking out this CD is that Hawk and Dove was the title of a controversial comic book in the ’60’s featuring two characters that were the total opposite of each other. One a dominant, emotional hero who solved problems with physicality and one more passive, who sought to use his wits to solve problems. While I am not sure if the dynamic between Elijah Miller and John Kleber has any comparisons with their comic book namesakes, the two do have an interesting sound together and Miller‘s emotional lyrics and often-whispered vocals run counterpoint to Kleber‘s in-your-face guitar work.
First song on this EP is called “Furious Armies” and has a very good sound with above-average production values here though the song is bereft of hooks and depends more on the somber mood and plodding beat to carry it forward. Miller and Kleber manage to conjure quite a racket here, and create quite and interesting mood along with drummer Dave Butler. The next song is called “Stain” and the vocals have a Jack White-type quality while the song itself is decidedly folk-based and has a waltz tempo. Rachel Lyon‘s violin plays a big part on this song, lending it an authentic, almost “antique” quality which adds to the depth of the song. The third song is titled “Boy On The Moon” and is quite quiet with just some guitar strumming and almost whispered vocals until some guitar squall and some sweetly-played violin join in to give some bolster to the song. Drums soon come in with a decent funky beat to finish fleshing the song out. Nice build as the song culminates in guitar feedback-o-rama and singer yelling his guts out. Cool. The last song, “Muscle Breaks”, is recorded live but sounds not so much different sonically than the others. Starts with mournful violin sounds and guitar with some strained vocals. Ends with a great flurry of sound. Great stuff.
I am very impressed with Hawk and Dove and although over the past few years we have seen a ton of duo acts starting with the White Stripes and continuing on almost to infinity, this is an act which is offering something different to the instead of the usual primal blues song playlist foisted upon the public by most of these two-person combos. What you get with Hawk and Dove is a more rustic-sounding country/folk thing which, although still rootsy, does not fall into the cliched area most of these acts tend to reside. While the band still needs to work on it’s sound a little and build upon what they have done here, I do hear a freshness missing in a lot of acts today – not just with the two person format, but with a lot of new music as a whole. Hawk and Dove bring something new and fresh to the table and I am hoping they continue to hone their sound as I am very interested to hear what they do next.