On their self-titled debut following a variety of singles, Gauntlet Hair, aka the duo of guitarist/singer Andy R. and drummer/sampler Craig Nice, seem to specialize in the kind of catchall that's made whatever can be termed indie rock in the early 2010s such a catchall. Shoegaze and post-punk guitars, older electronic rhythms repurposed, lots and lots of reverb on the singing -- it's not so much following in the vein of one particular artist as a large number of them, reworked and recombined. As such, it's an oftentimes enjoyable enough listen, but also reflects where the band currently stands in its career, starting out rather than distinctly something or someone itself. In the constant wash of one song after another, though, there's usually at least one moment or element per tune that stands out, and it usually has to do with that guitar sound of Andy R.'s. Whether taken from any number of '80s post-punk romanticists from the U.K. or from those acts of more recent vintage that prefer the form, there's something in the liquid swoon of the instrument on "Top Bunk" or "Showing" that resonates, often beautifully so. It's not yet distinctly theirs but they get a good result out of it, while Nice's ear for acoustic and electronic percussion in equal measure gives him a helpful fluidity not always evident in the field. Another key point in their favor lies in how they end songs, often finding just the right unexpected coda -- or two, based on the switch in drums and then beatless loop wrapping up "Lights Out." "My Christ," which concludes with a notably different vocal and verse than was previously evident on the song, might be the strongest example of their ear for a slam-bang finish. If Gauntlet Hair are promising rather than solid, they're promising nonetheless, one band of many with a shot at a further brass ring after 2011. ~ Ned Raggett
Spin (p.70) - "[T]he tribal rhythms and dissonance ultimately help make the melodies sound sweeter."
CMJ - "The band's proclivities to upbeat guitar licks and hazy echoing cacophony are constantly in tension in Gauntlet Hair's sound, part foggy and part lucidly indie."
Q (Magazine) (p.127) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[O]n the likes of 'Top Bunk' and 'Keep Time' they display a genuine pop nous."
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