steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

White Hassle

"Life Is Still Sweet" CDEP

Orange Recordings

Genres: folk rock, blues rock, country-folk

Orange Recordings
2248 Panorama Terrace
Los Angeles, CA 90039-3543

Feb 3 - 9 2003

Life Is Still Sweet is a five-song EP from Marcellus Hall and Dave Varenka's Railroad Jerk side-project, White Hassle.  A play on everyone's favourite burger chain, the band plays upbeat folk-influenced blues with a very catchy, hummable sound.  The title-track, for example, is a simple folk-rock tune that's got a great harmonica-vocals trade-off going on.  The lyrics are simple (much of the words are simply "Life is still sweet" repeated over and over), the instrumentation is regular, yet it's as catchy as all heck.

Another interesting element of White Hassle's music is that they have a bit of turntable work going on in some of the tracks (courtesy of Atsushi Numata).  A prime example is the cover of The Everly Brothers' "Let It Be Me."  Littered with turntables and drum programming, the track still manages to sound very folky - the excellent harmonica part certainly helps.

The album's two last songs, "2 Fingers Cross'd" and "Futura Trance" (there is a hidden track, but it's only thirty seconds long) are also winners.  The former boasts some neat country-folk vocals, while the latter is just a rollicking rockabilly instrumental.

Altogether, Life Is Still Sweet may seem a little unimportant, mainly due to the fact that it is, really, only an EP, but it will surely tide over fans waiting for the next album.


Fun Fact: "Let It Be Me" is not the only Everly Brothers cover the band has done - in fact, their 1997 album on Matador Records, National Chain, featured a version of "Oh, What A Feeling."

Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 5 songs, distributed by the label released 2000]