Music

Hot Hot Heat: Future Breeds

Even with some seriously lame moments on major labels, returning to an independent doesn't help HHH at all. In fact, they produce the worst album of their career.


Hot Hot Heat

Future Breeds

Label: Dangerbird
US Release Date: 2010-06-08
UK Release Date: 2010-06-07
Amazon
iTunes

Light years ago, I was writing constantly for a publication/website called Sex & Guts. One day, Sub Pop sent me a promo package containing an EP from a band with a silly name, Hot Hot Heat's Knock Knock Knock (this was around 2001 or 2002). Upon listening, I was shockingly floored -- frenetic energy, massive hooks, huge rhythms; I knew the band was going somewhere and wouldn't fall into obscurity like many new indie rock groups do.

Then came 2002's Make Up the Breakdown a full-length that had critics everywhere on their knees, bowing to post-punk revival's new gods (The Rapture would become the next saviors). Even on an indie label, it made a small splash with the single "Bandages", getting a bit of airplay on commercial radio and those MTV offshoots that actually play videos from artists other than Rihanna or the Black-Eyed Peas (those are the only popular acts I actually really know at this point; sorry if I come off as ignorant).

Then something terrible happened. Hot Hot Heat signed to a (dare I utter the words?) MAJOR LABEL. Critics across the world had brain embolisms. Here's yet another reason to hate me: HHH's major label debut, Elevator, is actually the best album they ever recorded. Sure, a lot of the wanton creativity was toned down, and, sure, I absolutely loved Make Up the Breakdown (and had delusions of being a big deal because I had the jump on them before their popularity), but the hooks on "Elevator" were just tremendous, and being a big pop guy, how could I possibly contain my pleasure?

They followed that with Happiness Ltd., seemingly an ultimatum from the record label to either get on the radio or pack their shit. It was OK (another statement lacking eloquence, but, seriously, it was just OK). Even still, "OK" is better than Future Breeds, an album devoid of a single excellent song, an album so forgettable that this review is about to end, because I forgot what I was talking about.

The only thing that qualifies as a decent track is "Zero Results," which is funny, if you think about it. Try it.

We're barraged by complete dreck/dross like "What Is Rational?" and "Buzinezz as Usual" (and song titles as embarrassing as that are not going to help anything). This is what happens when your major label drops you? You lose everything? Shouldn't the return to independence spark ultimate creativity? I can only sum up the music in three words: noisy, tuneless, and empty. I cannot comprehend why my brothers in criticism, across the board, are saying this is HHH's "best album in years". Pesky subjectivity.

So, I'm not saying with future releases Hot Hot Heat cannot redeem themselves. But after this debacle, I really don't give a damn whether it happens or not.

They had a good run.

4

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.


20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta


Keep reading... Show less
Film

Hitchcock, 'Psycho', and '78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene'

Alfred Hitchock and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho (courtesy of Dogwoof)

"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.

The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.

Keep reading... Show less

The Force, which details the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts, is best viewed as a complimentary work to prior Black Lives Matter documentaries, such 2017's Whose Streets? and The Blood Is at the Doorstep.

Peter Nicks' documentary The Force examines the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts to curb its history of excessive police force and systemic civil rights violations, which have warranted federal government oversight of the Department since 2003. Although it has its imperfections, The Force stands out for its uniquely equitable treatment of law enforcement as a complex organism necessitating difficult incremental changes.

Keep reading... Show less
6

Mary Poppins, Mrs. Gamp, Egyptian deities, a Japanese umbrella spirit, and a supporting cast of hundreds of brollies fill Marion Rankine's lively history.

"What can go up a chimney down but can't go down a chimney up?" Marion Rankine begins her wide-ranging survey of the umbrella and its significance with this riddle. It nicely establishes her theme: just as umbrellas undergo, in the everyday use of them, a transformation, so too looking at this familiar, even forgettable object from multiple perspectives transforms our view of it.

Keep reading... Show less
7
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image