The Huaraches: “The Huaraches Steal Second”

The Huaraches Steal Second

Wherein our heroes up the ante on ribald rhythms, dark dance grooves, and cavernous compositional structures.

On their second full-length, The Huaraches, Canada’s greatest instrumental band, go widescreen, with bigger riffs, a sense of dilated space-time, and a creeping menace that brings a darker edge to their hard-driving party jams.  The mood is more minor key, more expansive and surreal.

Opener “Bowlarrow” stalks your ear drums like a sick tiger, waiting to taste your blood before it expires from blood fever. “I Guano Rock” takes off like a rickety train car careening down the mountainside. The white-knuckled suspense and the sense of anticipation are driven to greater heights on the back of a mutant blues riff.

“Mudsharks Away!” is one of the funkiest horror shows you’ll ever hear. The band jumps into your head, driving you dizzy with distortion and clanging beats. It’s like a come-on from a serial killer, charming and unsettling all at once.

“Armenian Bandstand” is the sideshow of this dark carnival. Atop a classic Diddley beat, they send lightning flashes of echo and big fat raindrops of guitar pealing out into the night. It builds ever upward, never releasing you from its grip. It waves its blade right in your face.

“Defending Go Kart Champions” imagines Dick Dale high as a kite on peyote, sending sonic waves crashing into your heart with a stunning immediacy.  Anchored by an insistent, growling beat, the tune careens into a sky-scraping guitar solo and carries you away on the updraft of a subtle key change. “Phasers! Zap! Blam! Kill!” brings the aliens to the party,  and then things get really weird. The melody seems to descend an infinite staircase, down into the bunkers of the imagination, where all the dark things hide. Tumble down into the abyss.

“Foghuffer” carries itself along on a vaguely western gallop, grunting forth like a phantom beast, unblinking in the moonlight. The mid-song breakdown adds some metallic heft before we are back to the mad lurch and the stinging guitar lines. “Dave’s Siesta” is the sonic trapdoor, the laboratory of the weird. Drums spin around your head, voices whisper, and you  begin to feel a deep fear. Like a half-remembered nightmare, it’s gone in a flash, and you wake up screaming.

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