I want to keep this short and sweet - just like my subject. That said, it’s a shame I had to resort to cliche - totally unlike my subject. See, despite a force of Americana that’ll suckerpunch your nostalgia on its ass and reaffirm all your long-held opinions about, say, The Breeders (who don’t sing as good), and Seam (who coulda used this calibre of melody), and a little outfit yclept Wussy (who you’ve never listened to before) - Hot Lil Hands is the kind of neo-retro original you thought couldn’t happen after Springsteen (I mean, I guess there’s Jack White… I guess).
Half Minnesotan undergrad and half roving bohemian linking the Jersey-Texas circuit you didn’t know existed, it’s entirely possible these two have never met in the flesh - but you’d never guess to listen to their hot new post-post-whatever entitled EP EP, which would leap right to the front of the class of 90s indie remakes merely on the strength of its sonic unity. KT Lindemann, the vocal fixture here (sorry, Ry - you more than keep your own, though) squeezes herself comfortably (somehow) between steady percussion and its guitar fuzz antipode (thank you, Ry), which departs into lovely lo-fi riffage whenever it damn well pleases, okay? The effect is schizophrenic, which is to say these two betray a certain variety unheard in nearly all four-song sets: the first track is straight Exile in Guyville, while the fourth is the best song the Gin Blossoms (and/or Matchbox Twenty) never got close to cutting. In between? Jagged Little Pill on piano.
If on hearing these tracks, the allusions I’ve drawn seem off - understand they sound off to me, too. Like I said - Hot Lil Hands pull together all the best aspects of the modern lo-fi tradition without being pat or excessive about it. I’m groping my way through the sum-total of my music knowledge to come up with the best references I can - and you get the sense that’s exactly what KT and Ryan are up to themselves.
About what I can say definitively: this is one of my favorite records of the year. And now that the other dude and I have earned ourselves two Pazz & Jop ballots (if they ever arrive to our inboxes, gulp), don’t be surprised if I prove it.