The CD opens with a guitar lick that says, "Hey, you! If you'd like to rock your face off, keep listening," followed by guitarist/vocalist Scott Schmaljohn (who did a short stint as BW's graphic designer a while back), bassist Matt Perkins and drummer Darin Dodd—all longtime members of the Boise music scene—whipping through a rambunctious melange of 11 rock, alt and post punk (minus the synthesizer) tunes.
Recorded at Project 7 Studios here in Boise, What Doesn't Kill You recalls times past as strongly as a smell can conjure up images of something long forgotten. If I didn't know better, I would have sworn the title track was from a John Hughes coming-of-age film, used in one of those moments of musical narrative that carries a struggling young character to the door of change and helps him summon the courage to open it. The song is a powerful bit of pathos and says something about The Hand—and more specifically Schmaljohn as a songwriter—both lyrically and musically:
"Well, they say what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger / but then [they?] said what doesn't kill you tries again / It tries and tries again until it, eventually, it wins / and then it starts over and over and over again ..."
Maybe it's because I've been around as long as The Hand that their songs resonate with me. But with its mix of old and new, polished and raw, I'd venture to guess lovers of rock, punk and the results of their matings will want to give The Hand a big hand for What Doesn't Kill You.
What Doesn't Kill You has been picked up by Canadian indie label Mag Wheel records and Schmaljohn recorded a guitar track for Built to Spill's upcoming release, due out in October. See The Hand with fellow rockers Tommy Dirtweed tomorrow night at Neurolux. Show starts at 7 p.m., cover is $3.