Listening to Men Called Him Mister by Haywood, brings me back to the early ‘90s, I’m crammed in a sweaty club watching Pavement, or was it Superchunk, or maybe it was the Dambuilders. Well, I guess it doesn’t matter, really. The point is that Haywood are very good at making indie rock that sounds like indie rock. Haywood sprinkles its influences all over this CD like a sweet indie rock doughnut covered with the disjointed lyricalness of Pavement “Newbie Zimbo,” the amped up guitars of Superchunk “Ogden,” and the earnestness of Karate “No Way Back To Now.” But in a time when I’m not sure what indie rock is anymore, this is still a pretty good tasting donut.
The songs on Men Called Him Mister are guitar-friendly to say the least. Marshall amps, distortion pedals, you can bet your thrift store T-shirt these guys like to rock. Haywood is going to crank it up, jump around, maybe even knock some stuff over. Yeah! These guys like to play their guitars, loud. The songs are angular, the sounds are often discordant, often aggressive. Bursts of feedback inspired flurries of noise are often followed by restrained chords and passive aggressive vocals. Haywood’s only missteps are when they delve into pseudo-country on “Bacon” or slow things down for a quiet moment of introspection on “Take An Inventory” and “Pink and White.” The more up tempo “The Kids Are Taking Aim” and “You Talk Twice” fare much better and highlight the band’s penchant for guitar-powered pop.
Since techno and “electronica” failed to kicked rock’s ass like every media outlet in the free world said it would, maybe there’s still hope for a bunch of guys armed with a couple of guitars and some old fashioned determination. Perhaps the indie rock party isn’t over after all. Excuse me while I go find the keg.