When asked to consider the state of contemporary new wave music, one might indicate how hit or miss the sub-genre has become. In the 1980s, post-punk groups were a breath of fresh air in a rather poor musical decade, spawning giants Joy Division, The Smiths, and The Cure among others. Utilizing a melancholic disposition and a knack for innovation, post-punk quickly became one of the more intriguing genres of the 20th Century; having an immense impact on the existing music scene. Although sonically far removed from the new-wave outfits of the 1980s, one could argue that movement had brought on the likes of Franz Ferdinand, The Bravery, and The Killers; bands that have taken the discontented elements of their ancestors and made it catchy and accessible, with mixed results to say the least. It has been a sound that The Bravery had failed time and time again with, and even fantastic groups such as Veil Veil Vanish and Crystal Stilts have seemingly gone unnoticed. Auckland, New Zealand natives Cut Off Your Hands seem to fall into that second category of contemporary new wave, in that they are just a bit of exposure away from seeing some serious return.
When we last left Cut Off Your Hands in 2008, debut You and I was enthralling its listeners with blistering tempos, infectious melodies, and an overall blissful temperament. With just one release, Cut Off Your Hands had captured the passion-driven indie pop that many of its colleagues fail at time and time again. In 2011 however, we see Cut Off Your Hands integrate a bit more versatility and multiplicity into their post-punk influence pop; delivering a much darker and melancholic release in Hollow. The kiwis’ sophomore release turns down the metronome and is more in touch with the band’s influences than its predecessor, in both a vocal and musical sense. Bridging the gap between the two Cut Off Your Hands albums is opener “You Should Do Better.” Although the noodling guitars and infectious melodies are very much indicative of You and I, the brooding atmosphere is inherently different from the aforementioned debut, setting the tone for Hollow. The record’s gray landscape becomes overly apparent with gloomy ballad “By Your Side,” whose suspended harmonies and austerity seem to depict Hollow’s ambience perfectly. For those reasons, Hollow does not prove to be as immediate as its predecessor, but requires a bit more attention to formulate its intricacies and tremendous growing potential.
After the bright and infectious You and I, Cut Off Your Hand’s sophomore release Hollow is the next logical step in the band’s youthful career; showcasing a bit more adaptability, innovation, and diversity than its 2008 counterpart. Although it does not contain the same enjoyment factor as the debut, Hollow is an indication of a band that understands its need to experiment and ultimately evolve with every record. With that said, the Auckland, New Zealand natives have just only scratched a sonic surface that has serious potential to produce a magnum opus album in the near future, provided Cut Off Your Hands continues to progress.
2. By Your Side
4. Hollowed Out
5. Oh Hell
6. All It Takes
7. Fooling No One
8. Down & Out
Cut Off Your Hands is: Nick Johnston (vocals), Jonathan Lee (guitar), Philip Hadfield (bass), and Elroy Finn (drums). The Auckland based band include Gang of Four, The Cure, Death From Above 1979, Whirlwind Heat, Joy Division, Split Enz, and James Chance and the Contortions among the chief influences on their skittering brand of proto-punk styled indie rock. Their self produced debut EP "Shaky Hands" was released in August 2006 on Speak N Spell, and includes the singles "You and I" and "Expectations".... read more