[Editor’s note – Sheggs had this review in before the album release date of October 2nd, but I lost it in my email. Apologies to him and to the band] I first came across Random Hand in the heady days of the beginnings of my last band in the early 2000’s. Back then Keighley had an emerging music scene and bars such as CJ’s (now a very good curry house), New Variety Club and the Catholic Club regularly put on nights showcasing the best of the local scene.
Random Hand were already the toast of K-Town and rightly so. They were equally as known for their blistering and fun live shows as the social commentary of their punk ska music and lyrics. In those early days I got to see Random Hand a couple of times when we shared stages at local festivals but it wasn’t long before a couple of the clubs closed, we went on to work more closely with promoters throughout the North and Random Hand started on their infamous European tours with Sonic Boom Six. They continued to grow bolder and I still remember how blown away I was by when I first heard Tear Down on the debut album Change of Plan.
So fast forward a decade and a couple of personnel changes later and Random Hand are about to go on what they describe a long hiatus and for a band that likes to do things differently they have left with a new album Hit Reset about to released whilst the final tour has already been concluded.
Random Hand have stated that part of the decision for this final album was that the last two additions to the band Dan Walsh and Sean Howe had not had a chance to leave something more tangible since their arrival in the band (joining original members Joe Tilston and Robin Leitch) and that the band had developed in that time. This development is apparent from the very first song on the album Day One, following a short dark and brooding intro the album instantly explodes, setting the intent for the album. More hardcore than Random Hand albums of the past but as sing along and fun as you would expect. The sound of a riot.
It doesn’t take long for the signature trombone and ska beats to make an appearance on 2nd track Death by Pitchforks, swapping between trombone bridges and the catchy chorus of ‘Watch out the pitchforks coming for you’ Not clear who the pitchforks are coming for but fun nonetheless.
What is already apparent by the third song; Protect and Survive that whilst on one level these songs are great power punks songs, all with a sing along chorus which would be great live there is an undertow to the lyrical content. This has always been one of the great juxtapositions to Random Hand, on level they are fantastic, explosive fun live band but on another level that have always had a lot to say. Whether that be the more overly political content of early offerings or the more socially conscious and personal lyrics of later Random Hand releases. In Protect and Survive they sing that there is no one coning here to save us. Not clear who Random Hand are needing saving from, society as a whole or themselves.
If I Save your back is a song written to play live , it is full of energy, has massive chorus and backing vocals but it also finds Random Hand in a reflective mood and in this is why Hit Reset has so much to offer, you can put Hit Reset on to get you in the mood before a big night out or spend more time pondering the deeper aspect to the songs.
After the Alarm with its trombone intro, got the vote in our office as the overall favourite on the album. This track is classic Random Hand with the shuffling ska beat that gets you dancing bursting into another big chorus.
With Dead No Longer Random Hand sound more hopeful covering the themes of redemption, being saved. Reborn. The nest track Pack It up we are treated to a Specials style start and another huge chorus ‘Fuck this shit doing it without it pack it up, move along, pack it up, move along’ To me this is reminiscent of the sound I fell in love with on Tear Down all those years ago.
It’s worth a special mention of the guitar playing on this album as it is often overlooked by the overall sound but the guitar together with Joe Tilstons bass it creates the backbone to this album and when the odd solo comes in it is a great addition to that overall sound.
When you know that this is the last album (for now) the last song on that album takes on a greater poignancy, what are Random Hand going to leave us with? As Loud As You Can combines all the elements fo the album to crescent with a trombone and band finale and great backing vocals but perhaps it’s left to Random Hand to have the final say with final lyric of the album. ‘Next time shout louder’. Make of that what you will.
There are many who have followed and loved every minute of Random Hand’s journey over the last 13 years that would be more than happy to Hit Reset and do it all over again. But in the meantime waiting to see if that is going to happen or not you do at least have this blast of Random Hand to keep you dancing on.