I really like Hood. They make music that varies between frenetic
energy and thoughtful reflection, but always has a vaguely melancholy
undertone. Hood also have recorded in a wide variety of "styles":
they have some lo-fi stuff and some really smooth studio work,
often on the same album. They have also used some electronic
sounds on some of their work, smoothly blended with acoustic
guitars and pianos.
I guess what i am implying here is that Hood are constantly
changing. They are not a band prone to stand still for too long
-- they want to explore and do new things. It's never a dull
So what, i wondered, would Hood do differently this time around?
The release prior to Cold House was their brilliant
Home Is Where It
Hurts EP, which blended lo-fi rock, dub, and glitchy
electronica seamlessly. Where would Hood go next? What new thing
would Hood bring into their sound for this new album?
I urge you to approach the answer with an open mind.
And that answer is: rap. There are two guest rappers named
Dose One and Why? (affiliated with something called "Anticon")
who add vocals to a few tracks, and who supposedly helped out
with the production.
I know that i, for one, was discouraged when i first heard
this. Rap is, well, it has never lived up to it's promise, as
far as i am concerned. From what i hear, it takes music and
strips it down to to things: a beat and an ego. I listen to
rap and i think, "Where's the melody?" Maybe i just don't get
it. But then again, i am a thirty-something white guy who grew
up BEFORE rap became popular. Maybe since i was never exposed
to it during my important formative years, i never grew to appreciate
Or maybe rap simply is mass-marketed egotistical crap. I dunno.
Okay, so i am over-generalizing here. I have heard rap music
that i enjoyed -- usually in a live setting. However, i have
never heard of "Anticon" so i feared the worse. My fears were
unfounded: Anticon are apparently not "Puff Daddy". They do
not make genericized "beat and voice" based music for the masses.
I don't know what they do, really, but if Cold House
is typical of their work, i would like to hear more.
The presence of Dose One and Why? is subtle -- it is another
color on the complex musical pallet that Hood use. I also think
that it is well used -- the subtle rapping adds a nice touch
to the music. I think it helps that Dose One and Why? have melancholy
sounding voices that blend in well with Hood's flurry of minor
chords and slow beats.
Three tracks feature the rap. The rappers come in for some
background vocals during the albums's opener, They Removed
All Trace That Anything Had Ever Happened Here. The album
ends with the rap lines deconstructed and then restructured
in layers on You're Worth The Whole World. Both of these
tunes contain pretty good use of rap as an accompaniment.
The rap shines, however, on the masterful Branches Bare.
This is the album's real standout track. It starts with a meandering
bass riff. Layers are slowly added, building the song up like
a brick wall: voice, guitar, drums, keys, rap. The rap bit contains
a lovely little piece of poetry:
We spit in the pond
To give the fish something to pray to.
Sometimes the sunset
Doesn't want to be photographed.
A lovely image, and perfectly in keeping with the introspective
rainy day spirit of Hood's music. What makes this bit even better
is that one of the rappers does lead, while the other echos
the words in an eerie falsetto. It's creepy and beautiful, all
at once. This whole track is.
Some of the other tunes don't use the rappers, but still stand
out. Lines Low To The Frozen Ground is a delicate jazzy
tune with deep bass riffs. The Winter Hit Hard starts
lightly, then becomes a swirling mess of rich electronically
manipulated lo-fi pop. Enemy Of Time sounds almost classical,
with strings, horns, and piano trying to drown out the guitar,
bass, and drums.
However, there are a two tunes that i avoid on the album, and
fortunately they are back to back. This Is What We Do To
Sellout(s) stutters and spurts so much that it not only
but it also makes me wonder if my CD player is eating the disc.
The River Curls Around This Town does the same thing.
I suppose that this type of intense cut-and-paste electrionica
is something else that i "don't get". The problem is, this is
the idea carried to an extreme, while if subtly used i enjoy
cut-and-paste. You're Worth The Whole World and The
Winter Hit Hard use the same theory behind the electronic
restructuring of the music, and those songs work. They are enjoyable
and do not make me think that my CD is destroyed. So maybe it
is the theory taken to the extreme that i "don't get". Maybe.
But that's only 2 out of 10 songs. On the whole, this is another
well done album. Hood continue to impress.
I wonder what new twist they will put on their sound for their