I was fortunate enough to catch Random Hand when they supported Propagandhi a while back, and was mightily impressed with their energy and presence. So when I was given the opportunity to review their latest offering (thanks Donagh), I jumped at the chance. And I’m very happy with what I’m hearing.
Random Hand have their roots firmly in the third-wave skacore approach to sound generation, but aren’t limited by the style. As a result, it’s a very non-generic sounding disc and shows what can be done with a little more thought and application on the part of musicians. Stuck in a rut it most certainly ain’t.
The music is a nicely complex mix of heavy punk-metal drum patterns interspersed with some nifty ska off-beats, a guitar that shreds one minute and skanks the next, bass work that’s rock steady with the occasional touch of rocksteady, with the whole affair punctuated throughout by some very sweet silver-tongued trumpet and trombone (the vocalist is responsible for this and must have lungs the size of a whale). Vox are overlaid with just the right amount of in-yer-faceness that really do justice to the lyrical flow, with the rest of the band chipping in at opportune moments.
Talking of the lyrics, these are definitely a cut above the usual mustard. It’s obvious that RH have put a lot of thought into what they want to say and aren’t afraid to go outside the sometimes staid confines of political music. A story of time spent in the Balkans (‘Tales Of Intervention’) hits hard at the military complex that visited destruction on the peoples of the region, but manages to find hope from the fact that ‘borders don’t mean anything when people can connect…we are not our leaders’. People are people, it’s governments that fuck us up. Other songs tackle the curse of wage slavery, pointing out both the futility of compliance with the ‘do what the boss says and make what you can’ mentality (‘But I know we’ll have the nicest grave, the little perk of my salary’ – ‘Start The Fans’), and why the working class can and must push back against the inhumanity of capitalism at every chance (‘We’re not a number sitting on a page and we’re not gonna settle for the minimum wage’ – ‘Not A Number’). There are well-aimed attacks on small-minded prejudice and a smart ability to make the personal political as they spread their underlying message of optimism.
But what I really like is the cleverness of their construction. While the delivery is clearly cut from punk rock cloth, the rhymes give an explicit nod to hip-hop culture in the way they’re pulled together. It’s a refreshing approach and one that ensures your attention doesn’t drift. After all, that’s the whole point.
While similar bands may cut it up on stage, they don’t always pull it off when they commit themselves to disc. Random Hand deftly avoid that pitfall and have no problems packing their attitude into a few inches of shiny plastic. As an added bonus, the accompanying artwork and booklet proves that the CD format doesn’t have to be boring.
For people who also like: Link 80, Capdown, The Ruts