Nashville based, but you will never guess it
We often take the piss out of the information material that is sent with releases. The same old bullshit lands in the inbox every day. Bands who are “stoked” with their new one, how it’s the best thing they’ve ever done (remember Axl Rose saying that about “Chinese Democracy”? Yeah, that) and just about every cliché in the book.
Well Hogan’s Goat are different.
Hogan’s Goat choose to include this quote from drummer Wayne Michel to support their debut: “You might like it, you might hate it. I don’t know what you fuckin’ like.” Which is enough to get lots of bonus points around here.
However, to cut to the chase, and to set Wayne’s mind to rest – albeit he doesn’t sound like the type of guy to give two shits – we do like it. A lot.
The key to it actually is in the name of the band. Hogan’s Goat is a goat from Scottish folklore. It is reckoned to have patchy fur, an eye out of socket, and flies abound wherever it goes. With the greatest respect to the band, naming themselves after a mongrel thing that doesn’t quite fit in is perfect.
The first clue to the fact that they aren’t your normal rock n roll band comes in the opener “Rat Boy” which sees a guitar solo play while singer John Salmon tackles the first verse. Such a desire to rock must not be taken lightly and it is far from being the only thing here that is bursting to make itself heard.
Each of the ten songs here has its own distinct style as if HG had so much business to attend to that they simply didn’t have time to come up with a signature sound. “Pennymade” is sort of like Mastodon but that doesn’t do them justice, “Shit Kicker” is what Clutch would sound like if they fully explored their desire to be ZZ Top, and the hook line “ain’t no running from a 12-gauge shotgun” is the type of sloganeering that Neil Fallon’s men would be proud of. That said, if you think you’ve got them pegged you’d be wrong. The swagger of “Annie Off The Rails” doesn’t so much usher itself in as kick your door down, make itself at home and disappear with your girlfriend by the end. The absolute stand out here, it’s chorus is so catchy they probably should vaccinate for it.
The others are a whistle-stop tour around everything that has ever been cool. “Over The Palisade” is genuinely heavy, “If I’m Dead”, with its slide guitar opening is one of the few that give away their Nashville roots, while “John Doe” is social commentary with a delivery that isn’t a million miles from Every Time I Die.
And so it continues. The stamp of Jerry Cantrell is all over the opening to “Jack And Jill”, “Elkhorn Mountain” boasts a riff that is an earth-shaker, and the closing “Drinking With The Priest” has the same merry disregard for time signatures and convention as Protest The Hero – and has a proper metal gallop at one point.
That it ends with a song that is effectively three tracks in one is a neat summation of Hogan’s Goat. They don’t do things like they are supposed to, and the album they give a name to is one of the most original pieces of rock n roll around right now.