Early Morning Review: Freedom Hawk, Freedom Hawk

If you go to their MySpace, the eyes follow you. 6:45AM: If I said to you, ?Hey, it?s a stoner rock record,? would you be surprised?

Freedom Hawk, out of Tidewater, Virginia, are a four-piece on a mission geared toward ?90s stoner space with just a touch of southern flair. Their self-titled MeteorCity debut, following last year?s nine-song Sunlight on Magic Lady Records, hails a ride in Fu Manchu?s boogie van while jamming out on garage-flavored Sabbath and putting back a couple of Legend brews, raising hell through the countryside.

Vince Burke (Beaten Back to Pure, Hail!Hornet, etc.) recorded, mixed, mastered and remastered the totality of Freedom Hawk, and he did a noble job of bringing forth the Orange-colored fuzz. I caught the band last year in New York after it was announced they?d be working with MeteorCity just to check them out, and compared to their live show, Freedom Hawk on record is a little tighter. Guitarist/vocalist TR Morton runs his voice through a processor basically throughout, and though that can get tiresome, it?s nothing unbearable, especially for fans of Sheavy or the aforementioned Fu Manchu.

Compiled from past EPs both self-released and not, most of Freedom Hawk — ?My Road? and closer ?Hollow Caverns? excepted — was recorded in 2006. No doubt the band thinks they?re beyond this material stylistically by now, but that doesn?t mean faithful heads can?t dig into what they have to offer. Along with Morton, Cave brothers Mark and Matt on bass and guitar, respectively, and drummer Lenny Hines are obviously capable songwriters; a track like centerpiece ?Ten Years? moving deftly through a stream of smooth-styled stoner rock just in time to set up the dirtier, even riffier ?Bad Man? that follows. For beginners and newcomers to the band?s recorded output, like me, it?s a good place to start.

Woods and wall-eye. Together at last.Freedom Hawk aren?t really doing anything that?s never been done before, but it?s easy to see why MeteorCity picked them up. They obviously have the chops playing-wise to nail a release like this to the front door of listeners? minds, and the material is clear cut enough that even stoner rock novices can pick it up and feel right at home. More than that, however, it?s bands like Freedom Hawk that confirm the legacy of the stoner genre, that prove the self-contained importance of the generation before them, and turn it, however slightly, in their own direction. Could you have Freedom Hawk without their sundry ?90s influences? No, but by taking those influences and doing something more than imitating them, Freedom Hawk puts themselves right in line with the tradition of the US scene. At this point, you couldn?t have those ?90s influences without bands like Freedom Hawk to validate them. Again, small wonder MeteorCity signed them.

Though I?ll take the ballsy breakdown of ?Jay Walker? and the swaggering chicanery in ?Bad Man? and the ?100 Degrees?-by-way-of-Brant-Bjork?s-solo-material of ?Hollow Caverns? (listen to the wah guitar and Cave?s bass) over some of the earlier material on the album, Freedom Hawk on the whole delivers the level of quality that heads have come to expect from latter day MeteorCity, which seems to be on a roll with its reissues and new releases alike. It?s a scene release, from a scene band, to the scene. Pretty much begs you to partake.

Freedom Hawk on MySpace

MeteorCity

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