The Hedons, Earth on My Nerves: Swimming the Intergalactic Prism

After garnering a welcome reception with a digital Bandcamp release during the summer of 2011, Indianapolis heavy punkers The Hedons repressed their excellently-titled debut EP, Earth on My Nerves, on CD via ResinHit Records as a precursor to their forthcoming first full-length. The trio stand in league with the current crop of up-and-coming Midwestern straightforward heavy rockers – bands like The Heavy Co. and Devil to Pay – but set themselves apart on Earth on My Nerves with a song like “Intergalactic Prism” or “Helluva Ride,” which takes head-down trad punk drive and thickens it tonally. It’s a fairly well-known adage that stoner rockers are often just grown-up punkers, and if that’s the case with The Hedons haven’t totally grown up yet. The six track/21-minute release showcases clear ideas and a genre-minded approach, but still retains a garage-style edge that comes through a rougher digital production, the limitations of which are mostly heard in Jace Epple’s drums. Epple’s playing is markedly suited to The Hedons’ sound, which veers into space rock and more weighted grooves on “Swimming the Witch,” but the cymbals sound thin and compressed as compared to Jeff Kaleth’s guitar, which is more open on that track than anywhere else on the EP.

But they’re a new band putting out their own material – ResinHit Records is a project of Kaleth’s to help promote fellow Hoosier artists – so it’s hard to hold sonic issues against them even if they do affect the listen. Earth on My Nerves still gives a solid impression and idea of what The Hedons are about, offering a glimpse of their appreciation for punk’s formative elements as filtered through grunge and desert rock’s budding tonal burl. Bassist Robert Ryan Strawsma, who also joins Kaleth on vocals, provides much of the ground for the band’s genre blend, taking the warmth of stonerly bass and the pacing of punk and making it organic and clear. The band’s overarching lack of pretense in what they do makes Earth on My Nerves a quick listen, but from “Big Bang”’s motoring groove and dual vocals, it’s clear right away that The Hedons have potential working in their favor, and among the influences they draw from punk seems to be the notion of not taking themselves too seriously, from which “Intergalactic Prism” – if there’s such a thing as space punk, this is it – greatly benefits. “Atomic Blue” continues the momentum “Big Bang” established as the opener, keeping an awareness of genre but making the meld seem natural anyway, which actually gives the EP something of a European feel, and though “Intergalactic Prism” seems to have a riff in common with Tool’s “Part of Me,” The Hedons are working in a completely different vein, as the second half of the track shows with a swirling guitar break that seems to meander to the point of oblivion before drawing back in for a final chorus.

“Psychocillibin” seems to affirm a predilection toward no-bullshit riffs, and the aforementioned “Swimming the Witch” moves stylistically into genuine psychedelic doom with a slower overall pace and more relaxed feel. Taking its name from the practice of immersing women suspected of witchcraft into bodies of water to see if they float or sink – floating being confirmation of their witchery and tied to a supposed rejection of the Christian god’s baptismal rite – it’s the longest cut on Earth on My Nerves and, as The Hedons are reportedly moving away from some of their punkish modus on their upcoming debut full-length, perhaps the most portentous of what’s to come. If that’s the case, their development seems to be headed in a direction that fits them well, and even as “Helluva Ride” closes out the EP, Kaleth’s solo maintains some of the prior track’s heavy rock vibe, however punk the catchiness of the song might otherwise be. If The Hedons can manage to maintain that catchiness as they begin their shift away from some of their punk-based leanings, then wherever they go from Earth on My Nerves, it will be worth following. Most of what they’re doing on these six cuts will probably ring familiar to those who either follow heavy rock or grew up idolizing pre-commercial punk, but the trio have simplicity working in their favor when they want it to and are able to weave their way between different styles without sounding awkward or lacking flow. Earth on My Nerves bodes well.

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ResinHit Records

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