Although Giant Haystacks’ moniker creates visuals of those rolled oat barrels often seen on the sides of dusty, Midwest two-lane highways, the album’s title hits closer to home. Blunt Instrument is based on bare bones instrumentation with the emphasis lying square on the shoulders of lead vocalist Alan McNaughton. Having a spunky-ness typically found in overseas blokes, it wasn’t until I read the bio that McNaughton was a Scottish transplant that his verbose manner made sense.
Their raw nature harkens back to the early days of British or New York punk, where songs were less than two minutes long, were cloaked with raw bravado, and topics rarely touch on lost love but had a heavier insight into everyday life on the streets or in a dungy motel bedroom. And when the “L” word actually peaks its head, it’s presented as more of side note than as the basis for angst or joy, “Young shavers get jobs in call centres / Catch the train home to watch East Enders / A quiet night in / Maybe go down to the pub / Maybe meet someone / Maybe fall in love / This is all there is.” Then there’s “Closing Time Scene” that kicks in with a cross between Devo and the scene in “So I Married An Axe Murderer,” where Mike Myers’ character is reciting off-beat, “Woman, Wo-Man, Woooooo-Man” North Beach poetry with a kick of quirkiness.
All in all, Giant Haystacks pulls a punch, hitting the mark with what I would consider to be a back-to-basics approach to punk and rock‘n’roll. In the June 2005 issue of Maximumrocknroll they were hailed as “One of the best live bands in San Francisco these days.” You’ll be able to judge for yourself when they come through town this Saturday, May 14, playing Hi-Dive with Joshua Novak, Sanawon, and Modern Crime.