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Red Hare - "Lexicon Mist" | Album Review

by Angela Phillips

Red Hare are a Dischord band. If you don’t know what I mean, I’ll give you a crash course. Dischord is a record label formed by Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson in 1980 in order to put out the album Minor Disturbance by their newly defunct band Teen Idles. They went on to form Minor Threat, and used their new record label to put out extremely influential music that developed the genre of hardcore punk with bands like Government Issue, SOA, and Youth Brigade. In doing so they ushered in brand new movements like pop-punk, emo, and post punk, with bands like Dag Nasty, Rites of Spring, and Fugazi. Red Hare has a legendary line-up in and of itself, being comprised of Shawn Brown (Swiz, Dag Nasty) on vocals, Jason Farrell (Swiz, Bluetip) on guitar, Dave Eight (Swiz, Bluetip) on bass, and Joe Gorelick (Garden Variety, Bluetip) on drums. Hopefully this gives context when approaching this album.  

The first song on the short, three song EP, “Silverfish (ungodly grace, this is our curse),” mourns the cyclical nature of our human condition; that we are doomed to make the same mistakes without gaining any perspective. Shawn Brown doesn’t just ask us if we understand, he shakes us by the shoulders and screams in our face: “Do You Understand?!” While this is an aggressive song, with a heavy rhythm section and shouting vocals, the motivation behind the song is not one of anger but one of desperation. It is as if Brown is playing the role of the man who saw it all coming and is imploring the rest of us to wake up, while the band itself is playing the role of fate. The music is the confirmation of everything set forth in the lyrics. The drum line is running and conjures the image of little circles repeating over and over again. The guitars and bass are imposing and ring in a sense of impending doom. It all drops out very unexpectedly for a searing drum solo by the legendary Joe Gorelick and just when you’re expecting to hear the chorus again, it opens up into a truly transcendent and terrible bridge. As Brown gives you the image of thousands of silverfish unleashed and running free, the music makes you feel them crawling and running, the only creatures alive in what’s left of our existence. As quickly as that image is given, it is swept away back into a verse that ends in Brown pleading for the last time, like the last man with any sense on Earth “Do You Understand?!” But of course we don’t. It’s our curse.

“Faced (The Root of My Confusion),” the second song on the EP, is a classic punk burner. The subject matter is extremely relatable; we all have that person in our lives who asks your opinion but does not actually want your opinion. It’s frustrating and infuriating and this song is a perfect catharsis for all of us who have found ourselves in this situation. The music is driving, the vocals are aggressive, and the breakdowns are classic: all in all, this is a solid tune.

The final effort on the brief EP is a cover of the song “Sphere of Influence” originally by Baltimore natives and Dischord label mates Lungfish. In the original version, Lungfish lean heavily on a psychedelic and spacious progression, really sitting back in the groove. They play the same progression for the entire song, opting to feature Daniel Higgs’ vocals and message as the main event. Red Hare, on the other hand, attack the groove and drive it forward with urgency. Their version begins with a nice, almost nostalgic guitar line from Jason Farrell, which gives way to the main lick. The first verse, while played more aggressively, is pretty faithful to the original, so it is pretty unexpected when Red Hare switches it up with an entirely original progression that musically feels like a welcome departure that soars, idealistically above the original groove. They bring it back home in the second verse, comprised mainly of a soloed, fuzzy bassline from Dave Eight. The soloed bassline in the second verse makes it danceable in a way that original version never sought to do. They then revisit their added original progression, this time making the section “Deny all that you’re doing/ deny all that you say” into a sort of bridge. Red Hare bring it home to the original groove once again with a repeated accusation “You can’t change your mind, about anything anymore!,” heralding the end of the song with a huge build and Brown’s shouted accusations. This is a very modern, updated reimagining of Lungfish’s original. It definitely is a metaphor for Red Hare as a band; in general, they are looking to future with an ear to the past. 

Lexicon Mist as a whole is solid and really develops the post-hardcore genre in a way that is certainly accessible for both new listeners and veterans of the scene.  It’s only $2 on Bandcamp, a steal, if you ask me.