Best tunes of 2002: #12 Hot Hot Heat “Bandages”

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Through several posts in my Best tunes of 2001 series, I mentioned the beginnings of an indie rock renaissance, one that was intrinsically tied to a garage rock and post-punk revival. This will become a common theme that I have and will likely continue to touch on through this series on my favourite tunes of 2002 and onwards through future series for 2003 and 2004. They say that everything is cyclical. Who ‘they’ are is still a mystery but you can almost see how the indie rockers of the early 2000s were raised on a steady diet of Joy Division and Bauhaus, perhaps not directly, but even through older siblings constantly blasting the tunes on their record players in their bedrooms. But it didn’t stop there. The indie rock scene evolved just as it did the first time, slowly through the dark dredge of post-punk into the jittery freneticism of the new wave.

I remember being fascinated as I started to hear new music that was oh so familiar to me, sounding very much like the music of my youth. One of the first of these, borne of reflections of Elvis Costello and Talking Heads through blurred and foggy mirrors, a young Canadian quartet sported this same restlessness and angsty geek rock. This was Hot Hot Heat.

The band formed in 1999 in British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada. The best known lineup of Steve Bays, Dustin Hawthorne, Paul Hawley, and Dante DeCaro stabilized in 2000, were signed to SubPop in 2001, and their debut, “Make up the breakdown”, appeared a year after that. The first single to be released was, of course, this synth heavy number called “Bandages”. The drumming and bass line kept a simple beat and the guitars angular and staccato, almost ska-like in feel, while Steve Bays yelped and rasped up nonsense.

“These bandages are anonymity
I’ve been shaking from making an awful decision
I’ve been running and running
Feels like my head is spinning round and round, around, around, around, around, around“

“Bandages” clocked in at 3 minutes and a third but felt only a third that long. It was catchy and danceable and despite all the retro feels, was as fresh as a hot shower and a mint pillow. And man does it leave you breathless. I can only imagine what it did to dancefloors around that time.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2002 list, click here.

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