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Hard-Fi
Cash Machine EP
Necessary Records/Atlantic
www.hard-fi.com


Do you ever wonder if Joe Jackson listens to modern music? Do you think he sits quietlyat home in his library and ponders where modern music, especially this modern Brit-disco revival thingy, would be without his pioneering new wave albums?

With a dramatic swagger and modern attitude, Hard-Fi brings to the table all that is right about modern rock, while also embodying so much of what is wrong with the latest wave of Britpop - but I will attempt to leave off my Franz Ferdinand bashing for this review. Hard-Fi is obviously an outrageously talented group of musicians, and their abilities shine on this EP. The bass player is tremendous, both in tone and chops, and the drummer is solid and knows how to finesse the sounds from the kit. Guitars are well produced and play the role necessary, propelling the music into its retro-style sound. Vocals are on key and chock full of attitude and presence, making the music sound very complete.

The songs are tight and well written - quite a difference from much of the modern overproduced stuff happening these days. These songs are solidly written, having a depth that would work in any genre, and containing a strength that shames all of their peers. "Cash Machine" builds on a disco-Clash base and creates a bouncy mood that will certainly move the feet. Vocals and guitar play off each other nicely, weaving a tight knit of sound over crisp drumming and the aforementioned brilliant bass playing. "Tied Up Too Tight" slows a bit, bringing in strings and piano to create a sincere Blur/Joe Jackson influenced sound, weaving together various styles and super-conscious arranging into a fantastic little song. "Sick Of It All" adds another dimension to Hard-Fi's sound, grunging up the overall mix a bit, and rocking into a bit more straightforward musical aisle. The coolest moments of the EP come when the band dips into the classic production values of dub music, as so perfectly exemplified in the first few seconds of their cover of the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army". The reverbs and echoes are perfectly chosen to create an intense ambience on this fine cover of one of Jack White's finest compositions.

Not derivative to the point of paying direct homage to the past, Hard-Fi's Cash Machine EP is a collection of songs that will remind your soul of musical memories, while their brilliant music insidiously worms its way deep into your brains and groovebox… After listening once, you'll want to listen again, and again… and again.

-Embo Blake

Track Listing:
1. Cash Machine
2. Tied Up Too Tight
3. Sick Of It All
4. Seven Nation Army


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