Hammock: Departure Songs

Hammock do what they do the way that they have always done it.


Departure Songs

Label: Hammock Music
US Release Date: 2012-10-02
UK Release Date: 2012-10-08
Label website
Artist website

I am going to level with you here folks. I will, as they say, get down to where the cheese binds; I am a huge, irredeemable sucker for shoegaze. When I was 12 or 13 years old and I heard My Bloody Valentine for the first time I felt like I was listening to music that I had been yearning for all of my short life but had never heard until then. I did not hear the term "shoegaze" until many years later, but I was a massive fan of the sound and/or genre right from the get-go. Indeed, I am so enthralled with albums like Loveless, Milk and Kisses, and Souvlaki that I have a fairly high tolerance for second and even third rate versions of these dreamy masterpieces.

Luckily for me, there is no shortage of new-school shoegaze bands moping around out there these days; some of them are as good as the original crop, many others are less so. The atmospheric, reliable Hammock falls somewhere in the middle of this spectrum. On the one hand, they have certainly established "their sound" and have stuck to it since 2005 or thereabouts. When you pick up a Hammock record you pretty much know what you are going to get: big, sweeping, semi-ambient tracks inspired by Pymalion era Slowdive, and most of Sigur Rós’ output. Hammock pump out nice, pretty shoegaze for old fogies like me who want to party like its 1992. The down-side to this is that Hammock's records sound strikingly similar to one another, and songcraft tends to take a backseat to atmosphere. This is pretty much the difference between a band like Hammock and a band like Slowdive; Hammock are not all that interested in writing cohesive, memorable songs, focusing almost exclusively on setting a mood, while Slowdive do both of these things at the same time. Hammock's sprawling, probably too-long Departure Songs epitomizes the band's tendency to set a pleasant, consistent mood that never really goes anywhere and never really pays off.

Over Departure Songs's slightly overwhelming two discs, 19 tracks, and 1:49:50 run time, the listener is treated to beautiful, lush tracks that tend to blur into one another and rarely reach anything that could be described as a climax. Even for diehard fans of the genre like myself it is hard to reach the end of Departure Songs without yawning a few times; there is just not a tremendous amount of variation on these tracks. Particular tracks feature specific sounds that tinkle or drone in the background, such as the lurching, mid-record high point "Dark Circles" which features some nice bells and percussion. But in general, it is difficult to identify specific tracks throughout this often exhausting collection as so many of them sound like the previous one.

Hammock's cover of Catherine Wheel's glorious shoegaze anthem "Black Metallic" that came out back in 2005 is perhaps Hammock's most memorable song to date and this really illustrates the point I am trying to make here: Hammock are a really great band that can throw down with the best of them when they have the right material to work with, but most of the time they neglect the songwriting part of their craft. Fans of Hammock will dig Departure Songs as it sounds a great deal like their other records. If I heard that Hammock were playing live in my neck of the woods, a big, dreamy, dopey smile would spread across my face and I would buy my ticket ASAP; however, I am not sure how many more times I am going to make it all the way through Departure Songs.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

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

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