Cool Hand Luke is more than just a classic film starring Paul Newman. It's also three boys from Tennessee who have climbed the carcasses of indie rock's remains to stamp out a following any band would gladly trade for. It's not hardcore, nor is it emo. It's not pop or even rock. But the case seems to be each of these fine musical experiences rolled into one, and much more.
I Fought Against Myself, the band's debut full-length release, begins on an instrumental note by way of "Sowing & Reaping" with some piano here and a pinch of the chimes there. This is possibly one of the finest songs out as far as instrumentals go. "Destroying Transduction" shows us what we were missing without vocals all along. The writing ability of The Luke is simple yet utterly amazing. An example: "I guess it's true, what I've always heard. We make ourselves feel better with hurtful words. And more times than I even care to know. We hurt the ones we love the most. Forgiveness is what I'm looking for. But you don't owe me anything at all. It feels like I'm stabbing my own back." "10 or 40" paints a picture of riding in your car with the windows rolled down glorifying God. But when lyrics look to befall into cheesy pop, convictious vocals lead to what praising Jesus is all about. "Debating the Axiom" challenges abortion and thoroughly succeeds with haunting melody and heavy guitar and bass lines. "God forgave them but they won't forgive themselves." "Sideways" puts out a piano piece Elton John, himself, would take to the bank but a bass riff he would probably cash in; in lue of being too heavy for his likings. "Waiting For Another Hit" is, well, another hit through a colorful canvass of lyrical brush strokes heading to an amazing story. An acoustic hidden track ends the album nicely with more of those haunting vocals.
There's no hiding the angst in this album; but there's no hiding the hope in this album either. There is a 2001 feel of Jeremy Enigk and his Sunny Day Real Estate as well as Thursday and Zao. With less filler and more of the Luke I found to enjoy, this band will become one of my favorites. Cool Hand Luke brings the good qualities of punk, enough hardcore screams not to scare the kids (well, I'm probably wrong with that one), the melody of infectious anthems, and the lyrical hope of a brighter day. I look forward to the future.- Review date: 1/11/02, written by Blake Garris
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