Review of the Week: Tiny Hawks
This record, a split release on Word Salad and Moganono is near and dear to our local hearts: Word Salad is the label of Zach I. Baron ’04-05 (a DJ on WHRB’s Record Hospital), and Moganono of Boston scenester/role model/Sinaloa member Pete Zetlan. To top it off, additional insert design was printed by hand at Harvard’s Bow and Arrow Press by fellow DJ Ben F. Tarnoff ’07. The Tiny Hawks LP fits right in with the Word Salad / Moganono catalogues—the former which produced the latest Sinaloa release, the latter of which carries releases by Bordman and the Body, among other Providence noisemongers.
The word on Kirkland Street is that the albums, which have been available for only two weeks so far, are going fast—just over five hundred were printed. The good news is that there is a forthcoming CD version coming out on Providence-based Corleone Records.
Less overtly political and frenetic than Bordman and nowhere near as sludgy or mystical as the Body, Tiny Hawks reaches the sort of happy medium between political hardcore and existential emo as Sinaloa’s Fathers and Sons. Song lengths vary from the punk rock standard of around 2 or 3 minutes to the ridiculously short—three of the songs are 40 seconds or shorter, two of which cram just as many lyrics as any of the other songs, while the last, “You got the right,” is listed in the lyrics booklet simply as “(instrumental for movement making.)” These songs are to the typical punk rock song as the snapshot is to the short film; in their terseness, they explode with an intensity that is inversely proportional to their length.
The band combines the energy of earnest hardcore vocals and rapid drum beats with mathematically precise, compressed guitar parts in the eight short songs of this one-sided LP. Their lyrics encompass both the angry screaming of those radically dissatisfied with politics (“…been told before this power is an unstoppable force to dictate a vision against its people / is what has been done before still out of reach? / vote, assassinate, impeach”) and the more tortured monologues of those alienated by mass culture and society (“…in the way one wakes at noon not wanting to rise from the bed; / in the way you suspend a distant dream before you; / in a language that has left you in fear of reluctance – this is what they’ve won by”).
Their ultimately empowering message of do-it-yourself action distinguishes them from a lot of screamo that’s out there—while they may be tortured and alienated, they are not content to merely criticize or comment, but instead call for action: The same song that tells “what they’ve won by” exhorts, “Show your tusks!,” calling listeners to action by adding that the only alternative would be to “watch the heat bead upon the body of a world that you have grown your skin in.”
Like bands such as Ampere or Wolves, there is an aspect of “Art for the Revolution” in Tiny Hawks’ empowerment-through-music, though the message is much more visceral than the latter group of theory-enthusiasts’ frequent over-intellectualizations: “Let’s start to clap our hands to match something as loud as the dogs themselves…as joy is thrown to the wolves we’ll take it all back in song, as the root, as the main sail.” In this, Tiny Hawks succeeds where a lot of other so-called “post-hardcore” bands fail; by keeping the original energy and ethos of older punk rock and hardcore, they manage to create a new politics and a unique aesthetics without over-politicizing or over-aestheticizing.
In other words: they rock, hard.