The Hunches surfaced in the waking years of this century to hit a nerve that desperately needed hitting. Playing a cacophonic, gritty kind of rock & roll, they proved that using a definite article in your band name didn’t have to indicate a stylized version of so-called garage rock. (Although, to be fair, such pigeonholing was always stupid. If you’re not going with something like Talking Heads or Godspeed Your Band Sucks, how else can you name a band?) The Portland four-piece distinguished itself by playing songs that seemingly lurched and careened with reckless abandon, but could make a left turn or come to a halt with a precision of equal force. Live, such bi-polarity was amplified, with The Hunches revealing a ferocity that their records never fully did justice.
The Hunches made their recorded debut in 2002 with a single on In the Red, “Got Some Hate” b/w “Lost Time Frequency,” and followed it with three full-lengths and an assortment of singles. Now, Almost Ready Records, who released a 7-inch of the band’s first two demos, “You’ll Never Get Away with My Heart” and “Like I Could Die,” has unearthed a whole album’s worth of unreleased material. Even better, it’s not a bunch of home-recorded demos or some ilk of a similar quality, but material recorded in a studio that was shelved before it ever saw the light of the day.
Listening with the rest of The Hunches’ albums in mind, one gets an inkling of why the band chose to leave this stuff in the vaults. You can tell they hadn’t quite shook off the influence of their predecessors to forge the hot-wired sound for which they became known. The leadoff “Watcha Gonna Do?” channels such stalwarts as the Dead Boys and New York Dolls into its punk blues, with singer Hart Gledhill coming off particularly Bator-esque as he delivers lines like, “Rock & roll suicide, here I come. Gonna live fast, gonna die young.” The take of “You’ll Never Get Away with My Heart” here has a similar sonic bent but is none the worse for it, while the record’s version of “Got Some Hate” is more distinctive and shows why it eventually became the first single.
Throughout the record, one can hear the group forging its identity as it tears through noisy rock signifiers with varying degrees of abandon. But rather than just a historical piece spotted by points of interest, The Hunches stands on its own as a blistering earful, even if The Hunches weren’t quite all that they would be yet.