Lithics’ “Hands” is a dynamic post-punk jam more than likely to stick, and stay stuck, in one’s ear.
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Listen: “Hands” – Lithics
Admittedly, dancing is not a gut reaction for me when it comes to music. I am not anti-dance by any means, it’s just maybe not the most prevalent gene in my body. My knees creak, my back is always one misstep from being thrown out, and my hips couldn’t lie to save my life. That being said, once every great while a song comes along, an unexpected song, a sleeper, that gets my bones to rattle with a bit less apprehension. The song in question just so happens to be courtesy of Portland, Oregon’s Lithics and their song, “Hands.” It’s hard to not feel like moving, gracefully or otherwise in some people’s cases, to this song.
The song wastes no time at the start with the rhythm section, drums, and bass doing what they do best. The drums are tight, concise, and on course with the bass leading the groove. No frills, all backbone. It’s simple and thick, but with enough movement to help fill the sparseness of instrumentation during the verses to come. After the rhythm section sets the framework, the two guitars enter, both playing high on the neck, not quite shrill, but not quite not shrill. One pedals a single note in succession while the other plays a kind of melody that descends and ascends periodically. There is structure but there is also distance, a distance that leaves plenty of room for the impending discord.
You take a walk
You take a walk, with me
Hands to the side
The verse and the lyrics are delivered with a stern deadpan by vocalist/guitarist Aubrey Hornor. These moments are minimal in delivery and quantity, but plentiful in a seemingly detached and introverted aesthetic. If it sounds slightly off-putting, then it must be working.
With all the formalities of structure and verse and rhythm out of the way, Lithics does away with convention, nothing new for a band working in this style of music, and explodes. The drums open up with the hi-hats and cymbals crashing and snare being pummeled. The bass and one guitar keep the harmonic structure moving, breaking, but keeping enough attention to detail to keep the song from going off the rails.
The other guitar in these moments gets to move around without restriction, with a slide being dragged around the neck creating a jagged and slick grind, like a western guitar being mangled. These moments aren’t quite abrasive but disjointed enough where at least the first time sounds like it came out of nowhere, ending just as succinctly and just as efficiently as it happened.
Bearing all of that in mind, Lithics keeps the groove tight, never losing sight of where they are going on this track. It’s noisy when it is and bone-shaking when it isn’t.
“Hands” is the first single from Lithics’ upcoming album, Tower of Age, which is set for release on June 3rd.
Listen: “Hands” – Lithics
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