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Adam Hattaway & The Haunters - Album Review: Bug Eyes

03 Nov 2022 // A review by roger.bowie

Have you ever looked a bug in the eye? It’s scary stuff. Bug eyes bulge, not because they are bloodshot with last night’s excess, but because they have multiple lenses through which to see and interpret and sense. Compound eyes see the world in a very different way. Like daytime dreamers they are dangerous enough to change the world. At least the way it looks. But not the way it sounds. Are all bug eyes the same? Of course not, the difference between a grasshopper and a dragonfly is 29,998 lenses.

And so it is with Adam Hattaway and the Haunters, an ‘every day is Halloween’ kind of band who are unashamedly retro yet refreshingly modern. New sounds through old lenses, and old sounds through new ones. That’s the kind of bug these Christchurch buggers are. Once were roosters, now practising insectile intercourse, to totally dismantle any notions of entomological expertise. That’s not why I am here, (phew), but that’s what you get when you call your fifth album Bug Eyes.

Fifth album? Already? Shit, it’s only been four years since their debut in December 2018. And Rooster was a double. People with bug eyes are therefore prolific, if indeed Adam Hattaway is one of them insects with multiple lenses. Let’s assume so.

Without the explicitly bold genre stretching ambitions of Troy Kingi, Adam Hattaway has been on his own eclectic journey these past four years moving from post punk meets Crazy Horse through Alt-rock to Americana and in the current case the kind of disco and reggae-oriented rock we experienced in the late 70’s and early 80's with the Stones' Some Girls and Emotional Rescue.

With a rip and a crackle and a guitar snort, Bug Eyes gets under way before settling into a power chord groove and there’s Salt in the wound and we are instantly gratified with the typically retro rock and roll sound. With a voice that traverses Van Morrison, Mick Jagger, Jack White, Tom Petty and Barry Gibb, Adam Hattaway oozes authenticity and fan worship if not idolatry. All for our benefit, I hasten to add. We all have to suffer if push comes to shove….. but not from Elmore Jones’ sublime guitar. The song finishes with a Van Morrison like promise to return.

The Magician changes his tune with an opening touch of Tom Petty before rocking to a chorus of falsetto Jagger. The feet are tapping and the magnetism exerts its bug-eye pull. Don’t want to start again but please do.

Adam has expressed an intense need to play reggae, and The King of Love is early evidence, rock and roll reggae with a Beat beat. Joyous disco reggae if there is such a thing. Now there is. In fact intensity is a word which characterises the entire positioning of this band (let’s not just talk about Adam).

I Want You  slows the reggae down and here comes Jack White without the stripes. This is extremely, unashamedly derivative, but an eclectic sampling of past rock glory is both welcome and refreshing. Where does pop go without history? Where does music come from without influence? Adam Hattaway and the Haunters embrace history and freshen it up for the 2020s

Rolling Stones meets Bee Gee disco and I’m a Haunted Man; Imagination in the same vein slows it down, more Keef than Mick.

A circus barker introduces the next song and the next singer, a Man of Action and the main attraction, dogmatic and systematic and a straight up and down rocker with an Elvis holler and ghosts on chorus.

The Fish Insists that the reggae theme persists a little longer but through a fish-eyed lens which is another form of bulge but a fish is not a bug (every day’s a school day). If the Beatles did reggae they would have written Promises but they didn’t and so Adam Hattaway does and after a growly Panic Attack from a mystery man we get a Disco Surprise which has just a wee gem of an opening riff that makes it a hit before the ball is bowled. A slowed down reggae reprise of Salt and it’s over, 12 short songs and 40 glorious minutes.

Adam Hattaway and The Haunters include Elmore Jones, Sam White, Thomas Isbister and Holdyn Skinner. Also, Tess Liautaud on backing vocals. Produced by Thomas Isbister and engineered by Josh Logan at LOHO studios in Christchurch.

Bug Eyes is another chapter in the inexorable rise of New Zealand’s most exciting rock and roll band of our times. It's out today, November 4th. And catch the band on tour also from today !!

And always remember, if you want to have bug eyes, be a dragonfly and not a grasshopper.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

About Adam Hattaway & The Haunters

Adam Hattaway and the Haunters (A.H.) are initiating a new generation into the temple of alt rock’n’roll. As a seasoned touring band with three studio albums, A.H. explore personal themes while weaving in universal motifs - star crossed lovers, losers, and lonesome travelers.

Forever shaking hands with heartache, Adam Hattaway lives close to the bone. From his home in Otautahi/Christchurch, he has earned an international reputation for sweltering hooks, high kicks, and raw, emotional narrative. A born front man, he deftly marries 60’s swagger with 21st century sensitivity.

The Haunters are Adam Hattaway (The Eastern, Wurld Series), Elmore Jones (3000AD, Katie Thompson), Liam Quinn, Tess Liautaud, Thomas Isbister (Deep Water Creek, No Broadcast) and Holdyn Skinner.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Adam Hattaway & The Haunters


Bug Eyes
Year: 2022
Type: Album
Year: 2021
Type: Album
Woolston, Texas
Year: 2021
Type: Album
Crying Lessons
Year: 2019
Type: Album
All Dat Love
Year: 2018
Type: Album

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