The Black Halos is the self-titled debut of the Vancouver band of the same name. I admit to not using my trust iPhone to research these guys before I picked this up a few weeks ago at the Melrose Vinyl Market – seeing that it was mixed by Jack Endino and recorded in Seattle was enough for me to make the purchase.
I’ve never mentioned Seattle’s Melrose Vinyl Market before in one of my posts… pretty much because until last week I’d never been there before. It’s an interesting concept – basically a vinyl collective where different individuals or companies rent space and set up their own sections, but just run through one cashier. This includes some small labels like Mossy Bottom and Satisfaction Records, but also private collectors and sellers who don’t have their own stores. It’s owned/managed by the same people who are part of Sonic Boom and it’s a great way for smaller sellers to get their stuff into a storefront so that junkies like me can flip through it. They carry a mix of new and used (mostly used, based on my visit), and it’s relatively close to Every Day music, another store with a great used selection, so worth the trip to Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood to do some browsing (Capitol Hill is also home to some great bars, markets, and lunch spots, so it’s there’s extra incentive to go as well).
But back to The Black Halos. Their genre is described as punk… and I suppose that’s more or less reasonable, even though that might not be my initial thought when I heard them for the first time. The music is pretty straight forward rock ‘n’ roll, with vocalist Billy Hopeless’ raspy cadence setting the band apart from the pack. Hopeless is that classic punk singer who isn’t going to impress you with his pure singing voice or perfect pitch, but instead brings a heavy emotional vibe to the music which makes it much more poignant. They supposedly broke up in 2008, but not before leaving behind five LPs and a handful of 7″ers.
There are some good tracks on The Black Halos. The closing song on side A, “For You,” offers the great line “No, I don’t got no love songs… for you,” while the opener of the flip side, “Fucked from the Start,” follows that classic punk theme of being downtrodden by the man, but does so with a really cool guitar riff. My favorite song is probably the least punk sounding one on the album, “The Worst Things,” which has some great slowed-down parts to it.
Start to finish I like The Black Halos’ sound, though the album lacks that one track that really sticks out and grabs my attention. That being said, I do find my self consisting moving to the beat, whether I’m just sitting at my desk and bobbing my head a little, bouncing my leg, or sort of walking to the beat as I move through the house, so that’s a sign that the music itself is somewhat catchy. If that happened to me while listening to hardcore albums I’d probably be running from place to place, sliding across the floor and crashing into walls every time I changed direction, which sounds both painful and likely to result in repeated drywall repairs. My dog does this about once a day, but that’s because he’s crazy and it probably has nothing to do with music, though he the “woo” part in Devo’s “Workin’ in a Coal Mine” will cause him to bark every single time. He did not even get out of his bed while The Black Halos played, so I guess he didn’t have strong feelings about it one way or another.
The Black Halos is available on iTunes, so if nothing else it’s worth you time to listen to a few tracks there – you might find something you like.