Boomkat Product Review:
The first ever HTRK show from way back in 2003 makes its way to vinyl via the label’s own N&J Blueberries label, mastered by Rashad Becker and providing a perfect encapsulation of the dimly-lit je nais se quois that's made them such a strong presence in our lives for almost 20 years. A low-key stunning document of something x special in the making.
Driven by a shared dissatisfaction with contemporary rock tropes (HTRK = hate rock) and passion for downtown sleaze, Lynchian surrealism and snotty nihilist chaos, HTRK’s original lineup featured Nigel Yang on guitar, Sean Stewart on bass and Jonnine Standish (née Davis) on vocals. The band were described on the flyer for the show as making "groovy noise, sleazy club tunes”, and while echoes of their later electro-flecked mysticism are present - Standish's kohl-eyed vocals curl with ethereal power over Stewart and Yang's fudgy art-rock endoskeletons - it's a more primordial expression from a band who weren't yet marked by Stewart's tragic death in 2010.
At this stage in their career the trio were responding more directly to their early influences; The Birthday Party, Suicide and The Birthday Party's Rowland S Howard (whose solo material was particularly formative for HTRK), who later stepped in to co-produce their breakout sophomore album "Marry Me Tonight" after catching the band play live. And while the sound is undoubtedly more raw, all the signature elements are in place; that interplay between thick subs, delayed drums x rowdy guitar spasms, refracted through Jonnine’s morose, romantic blues - all pleasure and pain.
At their best, they capture the gloriousness of early Cocteau Twins, trading Robin Guthrie's shimmering guitars for whistling feedback and low-end gloop - a sound we’ve obsessed over for coming on two decades now.