Giant Drag - Waking Up is Hard to Do

by Bob Coyne Rating:9 Release Date:2013-03-05

If 2012 was the year of the comeback tour, then 2013 is already shaping up to be the year of the comeback album. We've already had a new My Bloody Valentine album after a 22 year wait and next week sees the return of Bowie after 10 years. The news that Annie Hardy has finally got her shit together and released the follow-up to Hearts & Unicorns might not excite many people but it should. It's taken seven years to get this record out and if you'd been following Hardy's updates on her website, you'd be forgiven for thinking it'd never happen.

I for one gave up checking the website a few years back. The sometimes painfully honest updates made me a little sad to see such a talent going to waste. The press release for this album continues the trend, but at least it now looks like Annie is fighting her demons head-on, admitting to her battles with prescription drugs, time spent in rehab and a boyfriend that went 'full psycho'. Naming her record label Full Psycho is surely a sign that she's starting to enjoy life a little again.

And so she should, as this album could see her get the recognition she deserves. There's no shortage of female artists out there right now but none can compare to the combined talents of Hardy's songwriting, voice and guitar. It's a more mature effort than her debut, with a slightly more polished production.

That's not to say she's ditching her alt-rock roots. The key influences are still there: The Breeders, Pixies, Polly Harvey, with a bit of MBV fuzz thrown over a number of tracks. The quality of the whole thing just makes it even more surprising. After reading about the past seven years, you would expect this album to be a total mess.

The first half of the album pretty much does what you expect from a Giant Drag record: Rocks like your favourite 90s slackers with that amazing voice on top. Halfway, through, 'Messif My Face' throws you completely off-guard by basically being a lounge-jazz track. Just as you're accepting that it actually works and it's a nice change of pace, a Pixies-like guitar kicks in, like Joey Santiago gatecrashing a jazz club. 'Sobriety' is another change of pace, all glam guitars and backing vocals. Imagine T-Rex with female vocals.

What's sad is that Hardy has said that this marks the end of Giant Drag. I'm not sure how you can end something when you're the main player, so let's hope whatever she does next is pretty much a continuation.
If seven years hasn't changed you too much and you loved Hearts & Unicorns, you will adore this. When that was released at the end of 2005, it didn't quite fit with its post-grunge, slacker vibe, but with the early-90s back in fashion, the timing of this could be just right.

Waking Up is Hard to Do is only being self-released on Bandcamp but hopefully it'll garner enough attention for a label to pick it up and give it a proper release. Click here, have a listen and show your support for a unique talent.

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