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Friday, September 19, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 68.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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Ladyhawk: Shock 'n' roll
Ladyhawk are gross but good

If you pay much attention to Ladyhawk's promotional materials, you might get too grossed out to ever take a listen to their excellent new CD.

After all, these grimy-looking Canadians dumped their piss pot across an open field after two weeks of recording in the British Columbia wilderness. How do I know? Because Ladyhawk were thoughtful enough to film the event and post it to YouTube.

But they leave their shock-value shtick at the door when they start laying down their tracks. The second album from this Vancouver band, Shots, was released last week. It features some of the best new rock I've heard so far this year.

The nine tracks are surprisingly diverse. The disc begins with the kind of fuzzy, lo-fi melodic rock that peaked with bands like Echo & the Bunnymen in the 1980s. The first single, "I Don't Always Know What You're Saying," has a signature guitar wail in every chorus. It sounds as brooding and intense as U2's "New Year's Day."

Frontman and chief burly guy Duffy Driediger slows down the tempo and gets musically sparse by the middle of the disc. Songs like "Faces of Death" and "I'll be Your Ashtray" blend the angst of Nirvana with the slacker resignation of Pavement.

By the end of a session the band admit was fueled by "copious amounts of sangria," Ladyhawk unleash a 10-minute psychedelic finale. "Ghost Blues" plays as a lengthy face-off between the Ladyhawk that wants to be quiet and the one that wants to howl at the moon. Guess which Ladyhawk wins?

It's almost as if Shots is a musical journey across the phases of getting drunk. There's an initial burst of adrenaline that gives way to bouts of sleepy introspection. And by the end, everything devolves into madness, the kind you hear when Driediger bellows relentlessly into the microphone seven minutes through "Ghost Blues."

Ladyhawk are a throwback to the days when rock 'n' roll stars were bad boys, and they flaunted it. But their music is good enough to assure them a role in rock's future. So don't let their bad potty habits piss you off. Just shut your eyes, forget about the things Ladyhawk would have you see, and enjoy the things they would have you hear.

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