Hyena WeAreHyena (self-released)
Hyena has moves like Maroon 5. They have bass like Skrillex. On their new EP, WeAreHyena, they seem to have exactly what a band needs to make it in the Electronic Dance Music world.
It wasnt always like this. In a CityBeat feature back in October 2010, the electro-pop duo touted its ability to bridge the gap between North Park indie kids (or scraggle-muffins, as drummer Michael Cooper so amusingly called them) and Downtown club-goers (aka balloon boobies). But times have changed; Moves Like Jagger is a hit, and so-called EDM has blown up big-time. And while WeAreHyena—a six-track sampler of a forthcoming full-length LP—does have scraggle-muffin-friendly guitar, some tracks come across like a shrewd attempt to attract balloon boobies and their EDM-loving, Maroon 5-listening ilk.
Just listen to Never Enough, in which a dollop of robotic sub bass has dubstep written all over it (though, to the bands credit, the bass never gets loud or crazy enough to really match Skrillex levels of spectacle). And then theres One Eye, which rides on a whistling hook that sounds like it couldve been cut straight from Maroon 5s much more famous whistling hook. Indeed, when I first put the song on, I thought I was listening to a remix.
Im not sure what Hyenas trying to do here. Are they looking to capitalize on EDMs popularity and maybe rake in some of those big festival bucks? Or are they wearing their influences on their sleeves, probably a little too obviously?
Fortunately, the duo keeps a cool head even at its most ham-fisted. Coopers straightforward beats are nice and tight.
Bryan Stratman never goes overboard with his multi-layered mix of vocals, synths and guitar. The result is often quite sexy: With its glimmering textures, candy-coated hooks and pulsating bass, the dreamy EP highlight, Sweet Lies, is as silky-smooth as Astroglide.
The duos 2010 debut, We See You, is still the stronger effort. In terms of sheer infectiousness, nothing on WeAre- Hyena quite tops bangers like Anyones Guess or Kiss it Off. But its still better than half the stuff the balloon boobies Downtown listen to—and some of those scraggle-muffins might just dig it, too.
Hyena plays at El Dorado on Saturday, June 30, and Sunday, July 1.