If you like the ‘90s alternative rock and grunge music made famous by bands like Nirvana, Foo Fighters and Soundgarden, then you’ll probably dig what The Parachute Dilemma (aka Dan Hauk) laid down on his debut. He used nothing more than a minimal studio setup. The result is a seven-song exploration called Shift. Naturally given that title because it reflects Hauk’s struggle as a musician who likes writing music a lot more than recording it, and so, a shift had to occur – in other words hard deadlines were set – to ensure that that album would see the light of day. Based in Reading, Pennsylvania, Hauk has been writing music for fifteen years, covering all kinds of genres. This is his first solo project apart from his work in a local cover band and the first time he’s ever mixed and mastered anything.
To start “Golden Boy” taps into classic grunge sounds of angst, anxiety and heavy hitting, catchy guitar chords. The kind that stuck in your head for days when Nirvana was in heavy rotation on the air waves. The song’s sparse lyrics and short duration also gives respect to the punk genre. “Money and Fame” features a good mix of the grunge genre and self-deprecation. But some spots set this one just a little into left field – the faster tempo during the breaks and the layering of a lead guitar over the rhythm. I thought these parts shed some light into the arena guitar rock of the ‘70s.
“Antidote” is a tasty head-banging, dynamic and highly creative venture into the struggles of holding onto your youth while you realize that time is not your friend – “the hands of time / around our throat / weigh you down / try not to choke.” Musically, Hauk is fantastic. I love how he puts in short breaks between the lyrics to bend his guitar strings, giving the song a style in the hard-punk rockabilly genre. “Unglued” starts off with TV signals or a radio station and menacing low sounds with a meaty bass and drum rhythm section. This one is perhaps Hauk’s darkest and most desperate song lyrically – “Scratching at the ceiling with fingernails / Bloody stomach in knots” and later, “I come undone / I come unglued / There’s nothing left, nothing to prove.”
“Nothing to Declare” has a great sludgy beat, and gets lower and soft during the verses, even a little psychedelic at times and then rocks hard on the chorus. The words I thought were more subjective, darkly poetic and some of Hauk’s best – “Surrounded by these death machines / The hounds of hell draw blood where / Frightened men walk home.” On “Deep End” Hauk taps into a formula that leans more into the early grunge rock sounds of Alice and Chains, and heavier style of Soundgarden, in other words, a style that’s not really 100% grunge, which gives this song a refreshing feel in my opinion. The ending “Hostages” starts off with a catchy guitar riff and one hell of a head-banging beat. This one is truly worthy of turning up – if you’re pissed about something and need to let out some steam, listen to this one! After listening to Shift, I’d say Hauk has done a fine job with mixing and mastering – a strong debut overall.
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