RATING: 8/10


Hearken is a band that takes cues from others, in sound and styling. Think Sonic Youth mixed with The Joy Formidable and a hint of Black Keys and you’d be pretty close to what Hearken is. But what makes this band different is their ability to take all of these sounds from their various inspirations and blend them into a cohesive album that flows from start to finish.

Help Me, I’m Alive’ has everything fans of garage punk and indie love. Soaring vocals from Donny Donovan (who also covers guitar) help define that sound in each track. Meanwhile, Greg Brunner’s garage drumming gives each song a more raw feel, aided by his backing vocals. And no, no other member has been left out because there are no other members. Hearken brings the intense garage punk to full mast as a two piece.

“Each song feels at home here, none acting as filler”

The ten song record, clocking in at just about 42 minutes brings a common theme throughout. Each song feels at home here, none acting as filler. That’s one of the more positive aspects when it comes to indie rock bands such as Hearken. Each space that a song takes up on a record becomes even more meaningful because it’s that much more important to make a statement with the album.

There are two songs on this record that really stand out. The opening track ‘Wake Up’ and ‘Fix Me’. Both could easily be heard on college and indie radio stations across the airwaves. Even more so, Hearken would be right at home playing these songs in dive and punk bars across native Pittsburgh, PA.

‘Wake Up’ starts off with a sound that mirrors The Strokes before totally switching gears in the chorus where the Sonic Youth inspiration can really be heard. The verses and choruses waste no time, quickly making their point and hooking the listener into this band from the first few minutes. The outro opens up for a hard rock ending between Donovan and Brunner, finalizing a fantastic opener to an otherwise impressive collection of tracks.

“Hearken’s debut full length record is a strong entry into a hopefully long discography”

‘Fix You’ has a similar style to ‘Wake Up’, granted all the songs do. However, this song leads to a more raw and emotionally grounded sound that opens with a softer approach. The chorus holds nothing back though, letting the emotional themes at play truly shine. The bridge here also allows the band members to feed off each other through their given instruments. The drums and guitar play off one another, bringing the volume down when needed, only to crank it back up a few moments later.

That’s a big part of the dynamic of Hearken. Two friends in a band feeding off of one another throughout each song, leading to that fervent sound prevalent in each track. Of course, the record is full and complete with bass and extra guitar tracks to help fill out the sound, but it would be quite an experience to see this band sell the emotionally raw sound that they’ve created. But even so, Hearken’s debut full length record is a strong entry into a hopefully long discography. And ‘Help Me, I’m Alive’ will help keep Hearken alive for many (hopefully!) records to come.







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