I like Canadian bands. Not just the ultra-hip gloomy ones from Montreal either. I like the happy-clappy rock ‘n’ roll kids from Toronto too, especially when they’re as plucky as Hooded Fang. Serving up an invigorating mix of surf twang, garage rock, a smidgen of sixties psyche and vocals swimming in oodles of reverb, they inject a youthful energy into the retro to create something fresh.
The band’s second album, Tosta Mista, is as evocative a summer record as you’re likely to hear. It crashes in like the sun-kissed surf, frothing with sexual tension and concealing emotional undertows. If you’re not careful, the infectious melodies and guitar lines sweep you along in the heady extremes of relationships, from the first excitable flutterings of new love to the agonising ache of breakup. And just like the British summer, it’s over all too soon – coming in well under the 30 minute mark.
Tonight, the skies stretch wide, bright, and blue over Bristol, a horizon that promises almost as much as a virgin West Country show for the Canadian four-piece. And despite a few technical difficulties, Hooded Fang manage to deliver on their promise, bringing plenty of musical fuzz and nonchalant slacker energy to the Fleece stage.
They breeze through the majority of Tosta Mista, allowing the tunes to do the talking. From set-opener Clap onwards, danceable surf guitar hooks rip through a summer haze of reverb and distorted guitars again and again. It’s a classic combo, like strawberries and cream, like cider and kettle chips. Lively, compact, and frayed, tracks like Jubb and Bramha pass in a toe-tapping blur. There are occasions though when the band allow their sound to extend beyond the three minute mark, like on ESP which peaks in an impressive Pixies-style rock out.
Sadly, a cruel twist of technology’s fickle dagger means that April Aliermo’s vocals are not heard throughout, robbing the band of the bittersweet girl and boy vocal interplay. This is most evident on Tosta Mista, a corker of a single that falls a little short of its shimmering studio brilliance.
However, by the time Den Of Love emerges, all is forgotten. With its slow-burning Deerhunter intensity and dreamy Beach Boys’ charm, it is a fitting end to their set, suggesting that something new will always replace what has gone before, that there’s always a summer just around the corner.
Hooded Fang at the Fleece and Firkin, Bristol, Wednesday 17th May
Words: Tom Spooner
Photography: Laura Morgans