[23 February 2012]
Hozac Records is quickly evolving into more of an institution than simply a record label. The Chicago outfit is hovering around the 100-release mark, meaning they’re serious enough to have gotten their shit together and out of the basement (but not into the penthouse by any means), yet still understand that becoming overblown won’t win you too many friends anytime soon. The label has managed to say more with less; you won’t find any stretching, sonically-textured LPs bearing the trademark “Z” on the back. Instead, listeners will find releases that pack a snot-nosed wallop without ever sounding like a bunch of teenaged brats. Others would be quick to call it garage, or perhaps punk if they’re feeling even more lazy. But Hozac Records releases bands that understand that the basement is not a hip place to be, or some sort of marketing tool; it’s a way of life. And with Hether Fortune and her one-man band, Hozac Records may have found their newest spokesperson.
Fortune plays under the Wax Idols moniker. She’s got a voice that would never hold a candle to the soul of Chan Marshall or Leslie Feist. Yet there is something so haunting about her voice, equal parts drawl and croon that leads one to believe she’s in on a secret none of us could ever imagine being privy too. It’s not off-putting however; it’s engaging. With No Future, the debut from Fortune and Wax Idols we’re drawn to her “I don’t give a fuck” approach as we are with those first faint wafts of pot coming from the basement. There’s trouble lurking around the corner on No Future, but it’s impossible to resist.
No Future works fast and hard though, rarely leaving enough fat to be chewed. You’ve got to have some guts to get into the desperate groove of “Human Condition”, in which Fortune eschews a no-bullshit philosophy. “Why should it be that nothing I see is ever real? / Why should I lie and keep it all inside? / Are we allowed to feel?” All of this atop the kind of rhythm that would have made Iggy in his Stooges days incredibly proud. Fortune is not keen to sell herself and her state of affairs. Instead, she offers a glimpse of how one can make it through a daily grind and find a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. “Dead Like You,” the propulsive toe-tapping opener harkens back to a weird, ‘80s shimmy. “I’ve got a haunting situation / Running, walking, crawling to the grave,” aren’t exactly inspiring lyrics, but it’s a reality that Hozac Records, Fortune and No Future continue to articulate with a balled fist and a lit cigarette.
“Gold Sneakers” is a ramshackle pop gem that brings back that ‘80s shimmy. You keep listening, wondering, “Where the hell did this groove come from?” Fortune gets a little warm on the track, so you know she’s got a heart. But if you begin to judge her for just a second, “Uneasy” will put you in your place. If the Ramones smoked a joint and decided to take a nice long drive without rushing the journey, “Uneasy” would be the song they’d come out with. There’s still an obvious frustration with the world around her, yet like on all of No Future, Fortune uses a delicate balance of ramshackle and precise rhythms to give this frustration a voice. Music connoisseurs are always on the lookout for the next “Thing.” Be it the next wave of a new sound, the next band, the next look. Hozac and Fortune seem content to tell their version of the truth. It won’t be long before more people start listening.