Your Highness Electric | The Grand Hooded Phantom
Most Likely To: appear on an MTV sponsored tour with Wolfmother.
In the endless plumbings and dredgings of artistic culture, I find very little as bothersome as the taming of rock and roll – the leering grins tempered into smiles and the camera angles cut from the hip up. Without even getting into the retardation of the quiet intelligence and innocent dignity that also occurs, the whole spirit of the thing is essentially castrated, deprived of its threat. That last bit is probably the most relevant, the removal of threat. If you’d like a good example of this, this latest bit from Your Highness Electric does just that.
Essentially, what we have here is a big, blustery, pie-fucking slab of a VH1 You Oughta Know artist on the rise. While everything probably had some good intentions and interesting follow-through at one point, it’s clearly material that is designed to deliver on the performance rather than the content. When these guys were back in their garage churning out Zeppelin riffs and squealing out righteous jams, I’m sure they were quite fun to listen to and even better to see, but whoever got behind the controls on this musical curd seems to have done a quite thorough job of sucking out any life these boys may have once had in them.
See, one of the things that makes rock and roll exactly what it is (and absolutely demands of any band that names a song ‘We Kentuckians Unite’, one of the better songs present) is the sense of threat, the danger that an enraptured performer inevitably puts the listener in. If this is removed, then you’re left to deal with the Nickelbacks and the Wolfmothers of the world. This is what is missing from the album, this is what has been almost calculatingly sucked dry from it. While everything booms sonically with precision and polish, it is a precision and a polish that just doesn’t serve the material well.
Most upsetting of all is Brandon Bondehagan’s painfully obvious craft. Oh of course he’s got the right bit of Robert Plant to him to give the whole affair a bit of that throwback flair (which, by the way, became cliché almost quicker than it became chic), but it is a very obviously feigned sort of eccentricity. The voice, much like the instrumentation itself, is all very carefully constructed by a mind rather than a heart or a libido and this is exactly why it all ultimately fails to thrill in even the slightest bit.
Not that anything is particularly bad, really, I even nominally enjoyed The Grand Hooded Phantom the first few times around. I suppose it just failed to sell me, keep me in any real way, or show me anything other than Pro Tools and pitch-correct behind those Marshall stacks. Not that I expect every band in the world to provide deep, transcendental epiphanies to the core of my very being, but for their next outing perhaps Your Highness Electric could keep in mind that a little slap and tickle couldn’t hurt.