Burning Hank – Seriously, It’s Getting Us Down Now (Self Released, 2010)
If you’re old enough to remember (or adventurous enough to have discovered) The Fugs, the ragged anti-folk of this six-piece from Leeds, England will strike a familiar chord. Burning Hank’s satire is gentler than the politically charged songs of the Fugs, but with lyrics like “I’m not a bourgeois whore, because I listen to Radio Four,” they show a willingness to take a few social swipes. The band’s topics approach the sort of wide-eyed inquisitiveness of Jonathan Richman, but without the desire to recapture the emotions of childhood. They consider the difficulty of speaking clearly in really cold weather (noting that Swedes seem to have mastered this), the quality of make-up sex, the superiority of Twin Peaks repeats to other recycled television shows, and a surprise drug trip that were supposed to be only quick relief from a headache. “Birthday,” recounts the maladies whose avoidance marks another successful trip around the sun, and the closing “Earthquake” memorializes the 2008 Lincolnshire earthquake – the strongest to strike the United Kingdom in fourteen years – with some terrifically sloppy Wreckless Eric-styled rock ‘n’ roll. The dire vocals are at perfect odds with the quake’s lack of widespread injury (one man’s pelvis was broken by a falling chimney) and show off a clever sense of irreverence.