a review of the Invisible Hand “Sinister Hand” cassette on Funny/NotFunny Records

June 5th, 2010 · 3 Comments · By

the second of Dominic’s reviews appears below. I believe both of these cassettes are due out Tuesday.

Invisible Hand – “Sinister Hand”

Funny/Not Funny Records

Adam Smith and his band Invisible Hand have been kicking around Charlottesville for a good while now, but it’s only in the past year or so that they’ve really come into their own as a fully-formed powerhouse (as opposed to Adam and some dudes knocking around on a four-track recorder every few months). Smith’s got a knack for indelible hooks, and he suffuses his songs with just enough gooey weirdness to keep them from falling into rote repetition. He’s not afraid to mess around with his recording techniques either; his songs play primarily in the lo-fi/psychedelic garage sandbox, but he can branch out when the tune calls for it. However, nothing’s so polished here to provoke thoughts of Jeff Lynne production values.

Side A of Sinister Hand kicks off with “I Want To Win,” a corker showcasing Smith’s British Invasion obsession with a spacey instrumental breakdown in the middle. Smith’s bandmates – drummer Adam Brock, bassist Thomas Dean, and guitarist Jon Bray – are firing on all cylinders from the outset. “Top Of The Pops” follows with a headstrong backbeat and rousing refrain. The rest of the material swings from poppy ditties like “My Heart Beat Is Making My Ears Ring” to rousing echoes of early Kinks on “Future Of Music.” A couple of songs highlight Smith’s touching falsetto, including the live favorite “Four Seasons” and “Black Tie Formal,” where he offers a sarcastic apology for dancing with another girl. “Once The Salad Enters Your Mind” (contender for song title of the year) offers a coda that starts off with precise interplay before veering off into headier territory.

A few of the songs on Sinister Hand (Sinister=left, so alternately Left Hand? Shorthand for leftover songs? Reading too much into the title?) have seen release elsewhere, but the new jams exhibit true growth. If there’s one small thing this tape is missing, it’s a cracked ballad along the lines of Guided By Voices’ “Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory” or Syd Barrett’s “Terrapin”. Smith’s got one in him somewhere and it’ll be interesting to hear it one day.

-Dominic DeVito

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