Remember when the Toadies were all the rage and Matt Pinfield’s wealth of music knowledge was still wowing MTVers all across the nation? So do the members of Hammer No More the Fingers. Allegedly playing together since they were 10, the three members of this Durham, N.C., outfit make college rock like it’s still 1994. Utilizing a simple bass, guitar, drum and vocal format, the tracks off of the band’s debut, Looking for Bruce, are melodious and energetic, but they’re often too stale for their own good.
The hooks on Looking for Bruce are solid, the band is tight, and the energy is unwavering. Its main dilemma is a general lack of ingenuity. We’ve heard all this before. Think Harvey Danger, the Presidents of the United States of America, or any other array of bands that debuted on Alternative Nation or 120 Minutes when MTV was still showcasing music.
That isn’t to say the band doesn’t go to interesting places. “Mushrooms,” an ode to the fungal hallucinogens, breaks around the halfway mark to offer a bit of thoughtful, acoustic pause from the anthemic riffs that highlight the skilled guitar chops of Joe Hall. Unfortunately, the lyrics don’t match the music as they impart the bit of wisdom that “the only way to get out of bed is to feel inspired by elephants balancing on a wire.”