Pale Hornet is a solo project of Paul Holden, a Rock/Garage/Desert musician currently residing in Lismore, Australia, who is also the frontman and songwriter for Foot, a four-piece Stoner rock band hailing from Melbourne. As a project, Pale Hornet is proving to be quite productive, We Are All Snowflakes following hot on the heels from 2020’s Worn Boot Tread and another album North which I believe first came out in 2018 but has recently been remastered and re-released in January of this year. Both previous albums were well received in Oz, seemingly effortlessly blending tuneful powerpop-type riffs with classic melodies a la Supergrass. What’s not clear is whether they were ever advertised / available in the UK, because it’s good stuff, this guy deserves wider recognition!
At the same time, Foot have been recording what has been dubbed their heaviest ever slab of stoner / doom rock, ready for release later in 2022, so Paul is not a guy to let the grass grow under his feet! We Are All Snowflakes is due out sometime this Spring
As a bonus, this post includes a premiere of the whole album for you to listen to, courtesy of Copper Feast Records. Simply click on the image at the bottom of the post!
We Are All Snowflakes follows a similar path to the previous Pale Hornet releases, relatively lighter-weight rock (compared to Foot), always very tuneful, slightly poppy, style with just an occasional touch of psychedelia. The phrase “solo project” is actually quite misleading, Paul having gathered a tight-knit group of classy musicians around him – including long time collaborator Keaton Rattray on keyboards.
The album contains another eight songs that followers of Pale Hornet will instantly recognise the style of, it kicks off with Scratch That Itch, trademark vocals that have a touch of stoner-rock about them but the over-riding vibe is a bouncy, pacey tuneful powerpop style with some very tasty guitar licks on top. Very promising start!
Sass and Thigh Tatts is slower, more stylish guitar and smooth multi-layered vocals. Paul may or may not thank me for saying this but it’s extremely radio-friendly, you just have to hum and toe-tap along to what is a hugely melodic song. FIFO WIFO is then very different, it’s more electronic, bubbly undertones with Paul’s spoken voice-over having a bit of a rant about life-styles in general – how much of this is auto-biographical is left to your imagination!
Delicious Taco is a probable single (see video below), back into the garage rock / pub-rock mould, very Pixies, Supergrass and loads of other Britpop bands – the point being it’s entertaining stuff, and I can’t help thinking this guy would be huge if he was on general release and known about in the UK?
Seeing Red is a cover of a Killing Joke track, an anti-war, environmental polemic, this version is a little bit derivative but still not bad at all! I’d seen somewhere a likeness to early Oasis and that’s not far off the mark on this (but better vocals!). Colours continues in the same mould, hugely tuneful, hugely harmonic, very nice!
Snowflake is again different, an instrumental, leaning towards electronica/techno-beat, not unlike Moby? And then we have the album’s closing track, Oblivion. Another pleasant sun-soaked powerpop number but I do like his guitar work, very tasty!
All in all, this is thoroughly decent stuff, quite poppy, nicely played and sung. I’m not familiar with Foot’s music, seemingly altogether quite a lot heavier so this is a sort of lightweight (in the nicest sense) excursion from that. The quality of songwriting, vocals, harmonies, guitar licks and general tightness of band sound is undeniable though, and the sense of almost being able to write these songs and melodies / chord progressions in his sleep, strikes a chord (heh!) with some extremely well-known Britpop bands! As solo projects go, it’s considerably more fleshed out than (say) Gaz Coombes’ efforts, the sound is a full-on band of quality. If you like Supergrass you’re in for a treat, I’m looking forward to working through Pale Hornet’s back catalogue – and dipping my toe in Foot as well! (sorry!…)
And now, courtesy of Copper Feast records, we also have a premiere of the whole album for you to listen to! – click on the image to scroll down the full tracklist below; and enjoy!