Album Review: Hagana – One Year

One Year
Release Date: 3rd March 2014

‘One Year’ is the debut album from Edinburgh’s alt-rock trio Hagana. The 11 track debut sees the band take their influences of Nirvana, Weezer and Tears For Fears and turn them into catchy rock songs featuring heavy guitars and pop sounds. Having formed in 2011 the band have toured the UK and Canada building up quite a good reputation in their hometown as well as releasing their debut EP ‘Hagana’ to strong reviews. The type of praise the band is hoping carries across to this full length release from them too.

It’s a dramatic start to the album with the subdued, atmospheric ‘Intro’ full of swirling sounds and echoey vocals before pounded drums, fast, scuzzy guitar riffs and a gritty rock style vocal crash in for ‘Voice For The Voiceless’. The song mixes straight up rock and more melodic sounds of alternating guitars and a steadier beat, the former works though for me the latter doesn’t really fit and work with the rest of the song.

It’s from fourth track ‘Trousernose’ that the grungy influences really start to play their part, this one is very reminiscent of very early days Foo Fighters with the steady beat, chugging guitars and authorative punk attitude found in the almost threatening tone in the music. Then there is ‘Seaquest’ with its slow, steady drum, deep bassline and scuzzy guitars, the vocals here have a rock edge but are almost lethargic in execution emulating very well the vocals style of singers from bands such as Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. While ‘Sparrowface’ with its old school fuzzy guitar riff and slight metal affliction to the grunge sound commands your attention throughout.

‘Wait A Minute’ and ‘Candy Boy’ are more punk influenced tracks with the first’s gritty vocals and harsh rock edge held together by a steady drum and yo-yo-ing guitar sound. The latter follows in the same vein though it has a more threatening vocal, there is also an air of some of the more recent punk outings where it is mixed with hardcore something bands like Drenge pull off so well and though this is a good effort, it’s not quite perfect.

A moment of calm comes from ‘Friend’ featuring a melodic acoustic guitar and padded out drums, the vocals are quieter and softer creating a bit of a sing-song atmosphere. It’s so different from the song it follows, ‘Candy Boy’, that the sound juxtaposition shocks you making you sit up and listen to the different way the band have taken their sound here. While album closer ‘Connect 4’ starts with a huge, dirty electric guitar riff which is eventually backed up by chugging bass and hammered out drums. The vocals have their rock tone back with the gritty harshness injected into them adding an impressive extra element to the sound which carries on the heaviness to a fade out to silence.

I think this is a really good debut album from the band, there are some good moments, some brilliant moments but there are also a couple of moments that don’t work or are slightly under par for me. However, the majority is good and will definitely see the band go on to bigger and better things after its release in March there is no doubt about that.

Check out the video for their single ‘Fuzzy Punch’ below:

To find out more about Hagana visit their Bandcamp page, their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter – @HaganaBand

Also, if you are a reader in Edinburgh or nearby then heads up, the band will be an album launch party at Opium in Edinburgh on Saturday 1st March. Support for the show will come fro local Kraut-rockers Birdhead and The Sparrowhawk Orkestral from Dundee. Entry to the show is £5 but this includes getting your very own copy of the debut album ‘One Year’ in that entry fee. Basically you are being totally spoilt to three bands and a free album all for a fiver! Make sure you attend this, if I could get there I would be there like a shot.

Though if you can’t make it to the show but want a physical copy of the album then visit their Bandcamp which is also where you can get it digitally along with iTunes and Spotify.

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