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coverpic flag US - Colorado - Full Moon 188 - 01/09/12

Gauntlet Hair
Gauntlet Hair
Dead Oceans

Gauntlet Hair, a twosome counting Andy Rauworth (guitar, vocals) and Craig Nice (drums, triggers), make playful, noisy avantpop-post-punk in the vein of, well, or a mixture of Animal Collective, Yeasayer and Roberts & Lord. As well as picking inspiration from 1980s post-punk outfit Durutti Column. Something old, new, borrowed, but nothing's blue. Bleak, or pale rather.

The pair has been making music together since they were 15 years old, and just a couple of months ago the very fine label Dead Oceans (which is run with the likewise excellent sister labels, Jagjaguwar and Secretly Canadian) put out their self-titled debut album (after releasing 7" singles for labels Forest Family and Mexican Summer over the last couple of years). It's a glittering weird-pop spectacle. Not that all that glitters is gold, but here's quite enough of cool beats and chiming guitar riffs making this record an exciting listen.

Openers "Keep Time" and "Top Bunk" present a full-scale experimental and wide-screen whimsical duo. In fact Gauntlet Hair sounds like a mash-up mixtape with loads of ideas and inspiration thrown in. "Lights Out" sounds like a lo-fi version of old school-XTC blended with Tears for Fears. Even though it's a bit exhausting to listen through the entire album, because of the high tense, tin-can sounding and trebled expression and soundscape. Standout tracks are "Top Bunk", "Overkill", the calmer "Showing" and the wild and wonderful "That's Your Call" (with handclaps and all). In Denver Gauntlet Hair is a part of the related DIY scene with bands like Pictureplane, Woodsman and Hollagramz, and the venue Rhinoceroplis. Dead Oceans description of the band's motive is quite accurate: '...mapping new boundaries for loud in pop music.'

When checking up the meaning of the word/name gauntlet I found:
- Gauntlet is several different styles of protective gloves worn in medieval times (with an armour), but can also be worn for sports (such as fencing and falconry), industry (when welding or grinding metal) and science (in pressure suits and spacesuits). Gauntlets can also be worn when defusing bombs, by butchers, by motorcyclists, by marching bands, or simply for fashion reasons. Also the Pope or other bishops wear gauntlets (Episcopal gloves).
- Gauntlet is a 1985 fantasy-themed arcade game (by Atari Games).

And; to 'throw down the gauntlet' means issuing a challenge. What a gauntlet hairdo is I can't imagine.

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