This was originally published in The Water Tower, a weekly satirical paper based in Burlington, VT.
As much as I’d like to think I’m the free-spirited, loose-cannon cop type, when it comes down to it, I’m a planner and an organizer at heart. So when I tell you that I’ve been carefully documenting my favorite albums of 2012 (even though it’s only three months into the new year), I mean it. I’m doing this 1) because I’m a go-getter, and 2) because I want my year-ender to be the best it can be. This year’s trajectory is pretty intense, and the competition is as stiff as Lindsay Lohan’s new face – Willow Smith is set to release her debut album, Knees and Elbows, alongside JoJo, who’s dropping her third studio album, Jumping Trains, in mid April. It’s hard to imagine that any half-decent record could hold its own against the likes of these gifted musicians, but I’m pretty sure Hunx’s Hairdresser Blues could put up a good fight.
Let’s be honest, Hunx, aka Seth Bogart of Hunx and His Punx, is about as prissy as you can get; glossy spandex, glossier lipstick. I don’t doubt that Willow+JoJo could destroy him in a Celebrity Deathmatch-esque battle, but if we’re going to talk about music here, which of course is our primary concern, Hunx reigns supreme on all accounts. He wooed us and shooby-dooed us with Gay Singles in 2010, and rocked our fruity socks off with Too Young to Be in Love in 2011 (with the help of Shannon sans Clams). Of course, that was when Hunx had his Punx. I’m not quite sure what happened to the gang on Hairdresser Blues, or why Seth chose to ditch the ladies for this record, but I actually think it really worked in his favor.
Hairdresser Blues is Seth’s most serious work to date – he sings about dealing with the loss of his father, as well as the loss of his beloved friend and tour-mate, Jay Reatard. For Hunx fans, it might be hard to imagine Seth’s more serious side. Afterall, we spend most of our time watching him parade around in skin-tight outfits, or hardly anything at all (can you say tighty-whiteys?) while singing about Joey Ramone, break ups, make outs, and one night stands. But this album strays far away from those sassy ’60s sensibilities, and really focuses in on some more serious subject matter. The album as a whole sounds much more polished than Gay Singles or Too Young to Be in Love in that there seems to be one single, studded-leather thread that ties the albums together from start to finish. It’s almost as if Hairdresser Blues is a concept album, only the concept is a coming-of-age story with Seth as the protagonist.
The album starts out with “Your Love is Here to Stay,” a heart-warming, feel-good track that also makes you feel kind of bad at the same time. It leaves you with the same bittersweet feeling you get when Lloyd Dobler ends up with Diane Court in Say Anything, not because you don’t want him to be happy, but because you don’t want him to be with her because she’s such a priss. The second track, “Private Room,” has made its way onto the series of tubes (YouTube, is the tube in question) with a killer video that I will sum up briefly – vintage inspired wallpaper meets Seth Bogart dressed in amateur Sargent Peppers drag meets rose petals and a velvet bedspread. A few tracks later and we’re graced with “Always Forever,” an upbeat, toe-tapping track with reverb a-plenty, and a chorus that’ll make you mad. The title track, “Hairdresser Blues,” is arguably the catchiest and most memorable track on the album, with its simple chords and hooks, and trademark nasal-tonalities that is Hunx’s signature sound. It makes me want to run with scissors or get a really bad haircut that I’ll too soon regret.
The album ends with “When You’re Gone,” a somber track that pays homage to Seth’s dad. It may come as a surprise, but part of me tends to get seriously depressed by the end of the album (the track before this is “Say Goodbye Before You Leave” – the tribute to my love, Jay Reatard). “When You’re Gone” is heavy, heavy sauce, and more traditional Hunx and His Punx fans might be a little surprised to hear this side of Seth, but it’s somehow comforting nonetheless. The 2 minute and 56 second track is full of those traditional, grieving-stage thoughts – Seth sings, “I wanna believe that you’re here and you’re with me.”
Hairdresser Blues is definitely a step in the right direction for Seth as he progresses as a musician, and perhaps even takes on the role of a more serious one at that. He tackles some of his inner beasts that need tackling, and fills the prescription for our daily dose of retro-fied nostalgia with his sugar-coated candy pills. We love you Hunx – keep feeding our addiction, and while you’re at it, keep your head up, or at least take solace in that fact that you’ve landed a spot on my year-ender. Kudos to you!