Roman Numeral One by underhandRelease date: June 23, 2017
underhand (sic) are an instrumental band from Chicago, Illinois – and their self released debut had been in the Bandcamp ether for a few months now before someone recommended it to us in our writer’s group. Our lists of albums suggested by others to treat our ears to at Echoes and Dust HQ grows at such a fast pace that it’s inconceivable to finish them – and this is by no means a bad thing. There’s always a guarantee that something new will come along and blow us away. This is what Roman Numeral One did to my tiny mind…….
‘Unjust Andy’ slowly takes the lead with bass and guitar riffs floating by like leaves in a lake, and after a couple of minutes they’re caught in the rhythmic net held out by the drums – the combination of it all keeps a steady pace then suddenly speeds up to finish off with some glorious feedback that left me wanting more. So, a good job then that five more stupendously good tracks follow on, with the standard staying as high as the bar that’s already been set.
Riffs aplenty are distributed throughout this album, and a fair share can be found within the almost-nine minute opus that is ‘Why Can’t I Have Brass Knuckles?’, with changes that’ll catch you off guard in the best possible way and an anthemic passage that’ll make it nigh on impossible not to raise your fist in the air. ‘Mo Vaughn’s sandwich’ and ‘Neat Is For Bourbon’ sound more like post-apocalyptic rock (sorry, not sorry), both with sinister introductions to a wide array of genres mixed into a cauldron of bubbling tunage that’s ready for your consumption. There’s so much more to discover, but for me to tell you would be like revealing the ending to what could possibly be your favourite movie of the year……
Post/instrumental Rock tends to get a bad rap in some places these day, and often doesn’t help itself with the expected repetition of quiet/loud dynamics that used to engage us so actively in the first place. Underhand will bring that all back to you like it was only yesterday you broke out that Young Team album (it’s definitely better than Mogwai’s release this year), and I for one can’t wait to see where they go next. One of the best that 2017 will be remembered for in regards to great music that graced our ears this year..