Hot Loser

CD Cover Veal
Divine Industries

Review by Darren Gawle

45-second excerpt from "Sugar Pants" (various formats)

It's hard to tell if you should be offended by Luke Doucet's attitude towards his listeners on Hot Loser. Once a hired axeman for Sarah McLachlan, you'd assume that Luke would be a bit more proficient with the instrument than he's letting on. Yet here we have a collection of 12 tracks that seem to indicate that Luke's decided to dumb things down a bit for us... and thank God for that.

Because, with every grating treble-friendly guitar fill or vocal courtesy of that kid on The Simpsons who's constantly going through puberty, you realize that Hot Loser is one of those rare occasions where a session musician doesn't wind up sounding like Don Henley on his first solo release. The other saving grace for Veal, of course, is that these actually good songs.

Hot Loser starts off with the Sebadoh-ish "Sugar Pants" and immediately starts winding its way through a series of tracks which show that Veal can not only just play the notes, but also the spaces in between them, giving most of the album a barbed, deranged tone. Witness the cantina-rock of "Mexico Texaco," the surf twang of "Two Heads" or the abrupt second-verse gearshift in "Down Again."

Mind, Veal does have enough grace to pull off a song like "Nails & Snails," which retains an air of sweetness both in spite of and because of the drum machine beat straight from the People's Republic of Casio-Tone. And, as if that's not enough, you also get the hung-over Led Zeppelin-meets-Gilbert O'Sullivan sensibilities of "Almond Joy."

So what exactly is going on here? It would appear that Luke and the guys have that rare ability to put the song first and their own talents in the back seat. The result of which are three winsome young men who play sleazy indie rock, but who can try a little tenderness when it counts. Ladies, how can you resist?

Artist Contact Info: Box 309, #101 - 1001 West Broadway, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, V6H 4E4,

First published in Drop-D Magazine on March 14, 1998

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