Based out of Cardiff, mercurial Welsh indie rocker Huw Gwynfryn Evans, better known by the nom de plume H. Hawkline, which he appropriated from author Richard Brautigan's 1974 gothic Western The Hawkline Monster, crafts melodic, slightly surrealist pop confections that fall somewhere between post-punk and psych-pop. Evans' first collection of self-described "strange pop" arrived in 2010 with the independently released A Cup of Salt. The Strange Uses of Ox Gall arrived the following year, and in 2012 he issued an EP, Black Domino Box. He inked a deal with Heavenly Records the following year, and in 2014 issued a compilation called Salt Gall Box Ghouls. That same year saw Evans traveling to Los Angeles to record his official debut for the label. The resulting In the Pink of Condition, which was produced by fellow Welsh pop auteur Cate Le Bon, arrived in early 2015. Previously, he had played guitar in her band, live and on record. He also played guitar for Sweet Baboo, and contributed bass on two Kevin Morby albums, Harlem River and Still Life. The fourth H. Hawkline album, I Romanticize, was released in June of 2017. It was recorded in Los Angeles and Wales, and featured a band made up of Evans, Le Bon, Warpaint drummer Stella Mozgawa, and keyboardist Josiah Steinbrick.
© James Christopher Monger /TiVo
© James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 2, 2017 | Heavenly Recordings
With a crack backing band consisting of longtime collaborator Cate Le Bon, Warpaint drummer Stella Mozgawa, and keyboardist Josiah Steinbrick helping out on his fourth album, I Romanticize, Welsh guitarist H. Hawkline has fully realized all the potential his previous albums promised. Here, he and his band smooth out some of the spiky guitar kinks of the excellent In the Pink of Condition, add some welcome synths and pianos, and fill the nooks and crannies of each song with sticky sonic hooks. Hawkline's songs are similarly fuller and more expressive, with catchy melodies and choruses that are destined to be lodged deeply in the brains of anyone clued in enough to hear them. There's more snap to them this time out, a little bit of strutting swagger ("Engineers"), some Television-style weirdness ("Television"), and loads of pleasingly arty left-field indie pop. The stakes feel higher, too; songs like "Last Thing on Your Mind" and "Love Matters" feel more potent and important to Hawkline. It comes through in his vocals, which are stronger and more present than before. Another change from the past is that the interplay of the guitars is a little muted, but the addition of keyboards more than makes up for it. The bandmembers fit together like they've been playing for years and are able to read each other's musical minds. There's not a single stray note played nor any excess fat anywhere as the band bounces along almost merrily ("Salt Cleans") or cruises on a slow boil ("Last Days in the Factory"). Even with the expanded arrangements, Hawkline runs a tight ship and every note counts, especially the slashing, economical guitar leads. Hawkline's work up until now was strong, but this album is strong-plus. He's upped his already impressive game across the board, which makes I Romanticize his best album yet and some of the best guitar pop anyone is likely to hear in 2017. © Tim Sendra /TiVo