ESM Rating: 7/10
Listen if you like: Cursive, Peter Stampfel, Bears, Said The Whale, Drew Stiles, Little Silver, Joshua Radin.
First impressions: Black Rabbit opened on deaf ears with an immediate dislike coming from the group in my living room. A few minutes later, though, all minds were open and mouths were shut, as it was a classic case of a bad opener followed by a majority rules solid album.
The nitty-gritty: The Hague seems to be living on the border of three time periods. The first of these would be the time when punk saw a fierce shift toward melody and elongated vocals in unison. Most notable in my eyes would be a similarity to the sometimes-contradictory sound of Cursive mixing quick runs on the symbols with Tim Kasher’s vocals moving at a snail’s pace. The second foot of The Hague’s Black Rabbit is firmly rooted in a resurgence of classical instruments fused with contemporary composition. The best parts of this album grow from the multitasking singer/guitarist Shawn Stevens' ability to synch his noise with that of violins. It’s a sound easy to associate with the flair of Arcade Fire and the movement that took place around them just a few years ago. The third time period is one when a band knew just how to feed the emotional monsters living within their fans, even if those monsters do not have the best judgment. I believe this period began with the first sounds man made. Despite the ability to step through time periods, The Hague will not please all. Yet this Portland, OR-based group seems content working up a strong stand with a young audience hoping to retrofit their musical stock.
Other recommended tracks: “An Open Book Conversationalist” is the one that will hook you in or throw you out. After this, the tracks hit stride, with standouts “California” and “Passing Cars” possessing the most substance.
East coast tour dates: Philadelphia tonight, Arlington, VA, on August 24th, Kent, OH, on August 25th, and Rockford, IL, on August 26th. Find out more at www.Facebook.com/TheHaguePDX.
By Will Tunstall