This Frontier Needs Heroes - Hooky
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: Aug. 27, 2013
Hooky is the fifth album from unheralded Brooklyn alt-folk duo This Frontier Needs Heroes and is arguably one of the best Americana discs released this year. The duo, which comprises vocalist Brad Lauretti and his sister Jessica, wade in airy alt-folk that veers between bar-stool ballads and cinematic alt-rock. Opener and title track "Hooky" opens with an inviting and rising electric guitar and Lauretti's warm and engaging voice. Quickly the song evolves into searing indie rock and the song feels slightly cinematic in both its lift and grandeur. The harmonica-laden hangover ballad "George Clooney," rises on a bed of pedal-steel and an alt-country landscape that would make Steve Earle proud. Ostensibly a song about loneliness, it uses the titular actor as a mouthpiece for the unbearable feeling of isolation. Heck, Angelina Jolie even gets referenced.
Lilting violin enters the fray on the rousing alt-stomper "Down on the Farm," while the rumbling and rustling "It's Over Now" is a hopeful duet that spins the line "Just you and I can save this world together." The harmonica-fueled "Now is the Time" is an encouraging boost to a friend that has fallen on hard times, while "Lonely Swedish Girl" finds the male Lauretti pining for some Swedish companionship. Equal parts playful and confident, the song also serves as the album's most complete duet and Jessica's most prominent song. If Hooky has any shortcomings it is exactly that. While Brad Lauretti has truly engaging vocals he never once lets his sister take center stage.
The album's finer moments are the heartland stompers however. "Sometimes Things Don't Work Out" rattles and kicks with ferocity while "Trouble" has a jangly and buoyant bounce that marries David Bazan with Steve Earle. Those qualities are what makes Hooky endlessly appealing and deeply affecting. If they keep churning out albums like this, they just might find themselves on bigger stages.