SBR07 - THE UNSACRED HEARTS - In Defense of Fort Useless (2006)
With this debut full length, the mighty Hearts retain the punk blast spearheads of their '04 EP but venture into more complex and expansive territory, marked by strange folk, breathless monologues, raucous blues and blue-eyed, bloodshot soul. Frontman Joe Willie spins tales of the city, airline bottles and whiskey in the fridge.
"With the longest song clocking in at under four minutes, the Unsacred Hearts throw down an unapologetic mix of pop and New York in the 70's kinda pink, with some Clash boogie and Bob Dylan stylings thrown in for good measure. Guitar stranglings reminiscent of Television mixing with a New York Dolls sneer and a sorta Speedball Baby sense of storytelling. Some songs shift into a slower pace, but without losing the sense of urgency behind, the driving rhythms never falter from the destination point. Sometimes it's Bob Dylan by way of Social Distortion, sometimes it's the Cramps mixing in a little Jim Carroll, but wherever it goes, it feels like New York to me."
by Marcel Feldmar, BIG TAKEOVER
"Perfectly dirty, bad attitude purveying, classically inspired garage rock. I like IDoFU because, if the band at all resembles their music in person, I would want to hang out with them. In fact, they sound much cooler than any band I've never heard of has the right to sound."
"Tales of bourbon-soaked nights and the chaos of the city streets figure prominently in this band's roughhewn songs. Tracks like "Whiskey in the Fridge," and "Airline Bottles" combine the rawness of early Johnny Thunders and the fall-apart charm of The Libertines. Hailing from Brooklyn, NY, Unsacred Hearts are every inch a rock and roll band, but unlike some of their NY brethren, they refuse to get stuck on one level. "Will You Be Coming Back To Me" is a hard little gem wrapped up in a 120 second package. "Teenage Palace Daydream" is another titanic track. It layers poetic phrases like "crumbled like sugarcubes beneath her steps" upon a bluesy backbone, proving that Unsacred Hearts may like to party, but they've also read a book or two."--Frank Stein
"The more-than-punk Unsacred Hearts took a rather long time following up their promising debut EP; happily, the new full-length In Defense of Fort Useless was worth the wait."
"EDITOR'S PICK. The third release I�ve reviewed by Unsacred Hearts is perhaps their best to date. Yes even better than their split 7� with Man in Gray. Whiskey soaked vocals straight from the lungs of Mick Jagger is juggled nicely with blues-tinged punk. They boast the frenetic maniacal indie rock of Modest Mouse and don�t dwell too long in the garage rock �The� band space that has grown tired and repetitive. These guys would suggest that a loud amp and a nice fat distortion pedal are the only true cures to a blistering hangover; after hearing their argument throughout �In Defense of Fort Useless� I�d tend to have to agree."
"Yeah, Unsacred Hearts rock. They will have you up all night lamenting to your whiskey-soaked soul your hearts desires. That is what sets this NYC band apart. That word, soul. As much as they channel The Clash and GBV, there is also an underlying Dylan and some gut-wrenching blues fighting to get out."
--Your Standard Life
"I just finished listening to The Unsacred Hearts debut full-length album, In Defense of Fort Useless. Wow! This is one hell of an album. Their music is an excellent blend of influences from Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, The Rolling Stones, Dylan, and Richard Hell. It is this disparate blending of styles that complicate the choice of song of the day. Do I pick the country-twang, Rolling Stone influenced "Roots & Herbs," "1000 Hot Babes," a song reminiscent of Dylan, "Teenage Palace Daydream," with its echoes of Lou Reed, or a hard rocker like "Point of Pride?" The choices are numerous, as every track is very appealing, but my vote goes to "The Two Three Four" a kinetic romp of a tune with dark underpinnings in its brief psychedelic intro and dissonant piano interlude."
-The Covalent Bond
"The Unsacred Hearts play working class garage rock with the kind heart and energy that leaves musicians with bloody knuckles and sore vocal chords at the end of a show. It's honest, loud, and raw, like good rock n' roll should be. On this, their second release, they pound through 15 tracks very quickly and show a grand diversity of musical influences and teachings. From the fuzzy garage of "Point of Pride" to the pleasant acoustic blues of the last track "Bless This Bus". It's complex and tough as nails. With enough exposure "In Defense of Fort Useless" could help The Unsacred Hearts win the hearts of many more! R.I.Y.L.: Richard Hell/Voidoids, The Replacements"
- Independents Only
"NYC's The Unsacred Hearts has pulled out all the stops on the group's latest 15-track excursion In Defense of Fort Useless. From the pensive acoustic dirge 'Bless This Bus' to a booty shaking hipster anthem 'Pink Angels on Plastic Horses' to a slew of guest musicians from the Serious Business think tank making impressive and powerful cameos on 'The Two Three Four' and 'Slinging Drinks at the Pink' to gritty Naked City slice of life rockers like 'Whiskey in the Fridge' and 'Point of Pride�', this ensemble has got all the bases covered here, leaving something for everyone that considers themselves a rock fan utterly satisfied. Stacked with hooks galore (just try and get the refrain of 'Somewhere Deep in NYC' out of your head), staggeringly remarkable songwriting, and a sense of urgency that can only attributed to the band's love of all things rock, The Unsacred Hearts will blow away any girl jean, carefully coiffed wearing 'band' that they have the sheer misfortune of being lumped in with by perpetually exerting the unmistakable half hour of rock 'n roll soul power and old time whiskey driven swagger of In Defense of Fort Useless."
"It's true, I've been having a moral quandary for months now about saying anything about the unsacred hearts & in particular, my favorite song on their in defense of fort useless cd because I sometimes perform with them (sporting giant hair, racooned eyes & doing an approximation of tina turner's proud mary dance with my co-hardtogette, miss stephanie t.) also, I've been to some of their houses & partaken in their hooch. & argued about who the best singer/drummer that ever lived is. & other sundry things of import.
"For the sake of this bit, let's pretend that this isn't so. let's pretend that I know nothing about these people. I've never seen them before & going by their cd photo, I'm shocked that they don't look like the radically different mental picture I had in my head based on sound alone. I guess I expected drunken hipsters in tight red pants. which isn't bad, I'm sure the red pant clad bizarro world version of the unsacred hearts are cool. I just probably wouldn't drink with them. these guys though, the ones in the picture...these guys I would drink with.
so yes, my favorite song on in defense of fort useless...that would be the scorchah that is somewhere deep in nyc which I've been hearing on repeat in my head as a great big slice of steamy city soundtrack since the first time I heard it's distinctive drum stomp/stick tap/bass clang opening at a hearts show some time ago. I got that panicked, head rushed feeling I get when I hear a song for the first time that I know I'll love forever.
ooh boy does it sound like summer in noo yawk. there's so much frustration & heat in the opening moments of the song that when dave s's guitar cuts in sharply with a ping! followed by attack after the previous sparseness, it causes an involuntary jump. you get this perfect music-as-mirror sense of someone in a room, caged & miserable, sweat pouring into their eyes, ready to drink or die. but that's nothing compared to the next moment, when right before the chorus, a catchy, rock-dance-inspiring riff enters, gets stuck in your head & won't leave. it's just riff, perfect drum response, riff, perfect drum response, chorus. & while the verses are excellent & the guitar solo is tasty, the song is OWNED by that riff. even as the tune reaches its coda & that riff evaporates & becomes a relentless avalanche of downstroke, its still there. even as the two singers repeat the weirdly hopeful-despite-the-lyric-sounding lines about cold winds blowing, rising higher & higher in harmony, there it is. still reverberating.
one thing about vocalist joe willie. while he is a top notch lyricist with a knack for pairing inverted rock & roll cliches with luminous poetry, he is also fantastically marble mouthed on the fast numbers. & yet, in a number like somewhere deep in nyc, there's nothing wrong with that incoherence. in fact, I kinda love it. especially right before that king riff comes back & joe willie is braying what should be (consults lyric sheet) "no redemption in sight/minimum wage scraping shit off the floors/night after night after night after night...." & really every time it plays, I only hear "yammer yammer yammer yammer yammer NAAAA AFFA NAAA, AFFA NAAA, AFFA NAAAA, AFFA NEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAA" & I totally understand the feeling implied.
the whole album has classic cuts, including the stately clearing through the trees beauty of bless this bus, the ragged trombone-assisted tom waits crawl of will you be coming back to me? & the brief & plague-catchy paean to the dodo of the skies, visions of the concorde." - - Daniella Chiminelli, Soft Communication
"Live, they were everything I could have wanted and more. It was the sound of four guys reminding New York what it means to have a blast playing rock/punk-rock. Their show, a virtual auditory viagra for the flaccid fans I've come to expect at NYC club shows. Absent were 'cool' people with arms folded, and a serious look on their face, and in their place was an audience rocking out to The Unsacred Hearts and their guest singers, the lovely Hardtogettes." -EarFarm
"It's not uncommon for kids who cut their teeth on punk rock to embrace the relative sophistication indie rock with the passage of time, but the Unsacred Hearts have turned this formula on its head -- Dave Siegel and Travis Harrison left indie rockers Cold Memory to try their hand at something more fractured and aggressive with the Unsacred Hearts. Still, this isn't your run-of-the-mill punk band, and the Unsacred Hearts' first full album, In Defense of Fort Useless, is smart and eclectic stuff beneath its frantic, sloppy surfaces. There's a country undertow struggling to rise to the surface on the homage to lost love and boozing, "Whiskey in the Fridge"; banjos and a trombone prop up the rickety melody of "Will You Be Coming Back to Me"; the drums and distorted vocals on "Teenage Palace Daydream" suggest someone in this band has been listening to Captain Beefheart; an acoustic guitar and a boogie-friendly rhythm lifts up the tale of a luckless waitress in "Slinging Drinks at the Pink," and you suspect that Joe Willie actually loves the gal he's singing about in the sweet and stripped-down "1000 Hot Babies." "Blues for Dave" and "The Bellevue Stomp" are unreconstructed hardcore rants less than a minute in length, in case anyone was questioning the Unsacred Hearts' punk credibility, but overall this is a band struggling to say something and find some new angles within the framework of fast, loud, and snotty, and In Defense of Fort Useless manages the neat feat of being pretty smart while acting kinda dumb; who knows where they could take this strategy next?"
All Music Guide
"Unsacred Hearts make the kind of punk your dad probably listened to–the kind that kicked out of dirty amps covered in Black Flag stickers, back in the early 80s. The kind with humorous, pseudo-country sounds, a la The Dead Kennedys. The kind Fugazi used to make, before Ian went and formed the spectacularly underrated band, The Evens. The kind from the soundtrack to Repo Man. The kind you should listen to, now! There’s not a single weak track here, and I’m thinking this just may be one of the best records of the year.
The lead track, “Point of Pride,” is the most straightforward cut on the record, which is probably typical of singles. Don’t think that it’s representative of the album. The next cut, “Somewhere Deep in NYC,” begins with a Tom Waits-like beat and then turns into a raucous, Replacements-style party. (“Will You Be Coming Back To Me” is even more Waitsy.) Other tracks have obvious influences ranging from 60s garage rock and Bob Dylan to The Clash and The Ramones."
"Sexed up blues punk that makes you want to shake"