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Checks - Hunting Whales

  by Paul Raven

published: 7 / 10 / 2007

Checks - Hunting Whales
Label: Full Time Hobby
Format: CD


Astonishingly mature collection of blues/garage rock on debut album from the Checks, a ahandful of youthful rockers from New Zealand who have recently moved to Britain

The Checks are a handful of youthful rockers from New Zealand, and 'Hunting Whales' sounds like their ticket to the big time. Taking the best bits from blues and garage rock past and present, it's an album whose maturity would be astonishing coming from musicians half as old again. Easy sleazy rock and roll blues is the order of the day; laid back and stoned, but with moments of blistering intensity. It's reminiscent of primal blues as filtered through the garage rockers of the late 60's, but with a modern spin that takes all the best aspects of the languid too-cool-for-school New York sound without picking up the boorish vanity and egotism. They've got great pop sensibilities - the songs are loaded with simple catchy hooks, bright jangly guitar chords, and sparse minimal bluesy solos. The instruments stripped back and laid bare. Minimal effects and unobtrusive production lets the cymbals splash right by your ears, and you can almost see the string bends during the guitar solos – it really is that clean. At the risk of acting like the Bush Administration and resorting to geographic profiling, the Checks' New Zealand roots may explain their sonic similarities to Jet, who hail from just across the water. Now, before any Aussies or Kiwis start threatening me with bodily harm, I'm not suggesting the two countries are equivalent or interchangeable – but I would like to advance the suggestion that there is a certain easy-going nature to be found among residents of the Antipodean nations, and that it shows through in their music as a certain relaxed intensity - a mellow energy, if you will. But the Checks have a much more serious approach to songwriting; Jet make throwaway rock tunes, as disposable as they are instantaneous, but the Checks have dug a little deeper into their hearts. It's not always plain exactly what they're on about, and there's a slight surrealism creeping in from the corners, but what you've always got here is narrative – genuine storytelling, which sits well with the bluesy vibe. Add in a couple of soporific ballads, soaked in booze and melancholy and full of earnest feeling, and you've got the complete package. Authentic and gritty, but accessible without being trite – proper rock music for people who think they don't like proper rock music. It's a winning combination – and if the Checks can just get it played in the right places, it's going to win over a lot of people.

Track Listing:-
1 Mercedes Children
2 Take Me There
3 What You Heard
4 Tired From Sleeping
5 Where Has She Gone
6 Terribly Easy
7 Honest Man
8 See Me Peter
9 Don't Wait
10 Hunting Whales
11 Memory Walking

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