Haymarket Riot – Bloodshot Eyes

Haymarket Riot
Bloodshot Eyes

Yet another rock band from Chicago. But these guys sound like they could be from DC, maybe even DC of a few years ago, when the post-punk thing was really taking off. Bands like Fugazi come to mind immediately, as do some of the bands that members of Haymarket Riot have played in, including Gauge and Traluma.
The herky-jerky rhythms of DC bands like Faraquet and Q and Not U are especially evident on Bloodshot Eyes. Couple that with the kind of shouted/sung Fugazi style, and then add in a slightly more melodic guitar approach for a good example of what these guys sound like. Undoubtedly fast and catchy, loud without ever being completely chaotic, Haymarket Riot rock like their name.
After the playful opening, “Technicolor Bombs” is all high-speed guitars, herky-jerky rhythms, and shouted vocals, emphatic and driving yet not out of control. A bit more straightforward, “Tasting a Good Movie” sounds more familiar to the Chicago power-pop style I know. This isn’t pop, but the song has more hooks in it and more restraint, at times even getting soft and kind of pretty. One of the band’s best songs, the throbbing bass-lines of “Placid” lead into shouted argument-style vocals and a heady approach. This song kicks ass, almost literally. “(The) Fight” shows off the band’s penchant for contrasting moments of mid-tempo, more melodic music with moments of sheer all-out rock, and they lean closer to their hardcore roots on songs like the abrasive “Conduit Alarm.” One of their least cohesive and most unique tracks, “Immaculate” sounds rough and unsteady while at the same time sounding emotional and powerful. That’s contrasted with the much more traditionally punky “Bought Your Weight.”
The only real fault to this band are the lyrics. Lines like “I got my ass kicked (on Saturday) at the roller rink” in “Castor Oil” and “Let’s surf the river. The waves are bigger” from “Wax!” are delivered in the band’s emphatic shouting style. Unlike the more social commentary approach of the band’s contemporaries, this comes out sounding rather banal.
Still, rather than faulting the band for their lyrics, I’ll admit that this is a fine, powerful rock album. The kids are going to dig this stuff. It’s not especially original in the midst of a million Fugazi wanna-bes, likely that many in Chicago alone, but it’s catchy and high-powered and extremely tight, with some fantastic guitar and rhythm, and that’s good enough for me.