Great Sounds Great; Bad Sounds Bad: Head Like A Hole ‘Swagger Of Thieves’

Every week, a panel of writers for The Corner will focus on a bunch of recently released local singles and grade them. We call it Great Sounds Great; Bad Sounds Bad. Read through the panelists thoughts below and let us know what you think of the song in the comments section.


[Grade: 3.6]

Maryann Savage: What are Head Like a Hole? A garage band, a metal band, or a parody band? It would be good if they were either deeply heavy and metal, utterly Sabbath, or purely and amusingly garage, doing simple 60s rock with joke lyrics about being a savage. It’s also a little confusing who, and what, they’re mocking: are they mocking wheedly-whee guitar solos? Those kind of guitar solos are great, and you can tell that they think so, too. There’s no need to mock: we’re not Ween. Lyrically (and musically), if they’re mocking machismo/sexist cock-rock, well, why create it, then? They should just capitulate to what they are and stop trying to make money. [4]

Matthew McAuley: What is even the point? This is a sloppy pile of shit that was recorded using studio time and hard drive space that could and should’ve been occupied by literally any other band. Can you say, “Juice TV high rotate”? [0]

Sam Valentine: This is the sound of my first ever Rockquest band. I wore a Metallica tee shirt on stage. [2]

Eamonn Marra: I almost liked the beginning of this song until they added little wanky bits to the end of their riffs. This is pretty generic hard rock, nothing really new or particularly interesting, lyrics are boring for example: There’s dust on the road, there’s dust on the road it’s like dust on your bones yeah there’s dust on the road. We’re ready to go, we’re ready to go, the horses are low yeah we’re ready to go. Nevertheless I think this will be huge, and Head like a Hole have done a smart move in reforming. This will appeal to the “listen to Hauraki” audience, and since Shihad and Opshop have pretty much become the same band, there is a gap in New Zealand music. New Zealanders love hard rock, look at the headliners of Big Day Out almost every year. [3]

Luke Jacobs: I was 18. I also liked this girl. She had a Blood On The Honky Tonk Floor. It was by a band she called Ha-Laa in the most nasal Noo Ziland accent ever. It was unlike anything I would hear that year. It was the second CD I would rip. I wasn’t really interested in HLAH back then it was more this little thing called sex. But instead of getting my romance advice from the Feeler (yeah I said that) I should have listened to Booga. He would have taught me everything I needed to know. You got to remember that the key to life is always to be real. “Talk is cheap but the scars run deep”, that is real. So what if your production is a little plastic sounding. You’re still real. So what if you borrow a bit too much of Monster Magnet and Kyuss in your chorus and break down. You’re still real. And who care if it sounds like you believe that “the savage is dead”. You still have big hairy sweaty balls, I mean fans. That is real. And they will love that HLAH is still real. And to be honest I love that. NB: The first CD I ever ripped was The Feelers (yeah I said that). [7]

Matt Monk: This won’t get them any new fans, but the old fans will dig it. Especially if the old fans love hearing words like “yeah” pronounced “YEAORGH”, along with pretty much the rest of the chorus, which they probably will. Not many people really get into HLAH in a big way, but nobody doesn’t like them. It’s old Kiwi grunge that’s having a slight resurgence and trying to have a relevant sound for today, not much more than that. It’s easier to be indifferent and just be all “yeah, that cover of ‘I’m On Fire’ was good and the video has Channel Z in it… remember Channel Z?” and then Booger and crew get lost in the train of thought now that you’re talking about Bomber. [5]

Timothy Marsh: The only context I can imagine this holding any relevance to is that of a construction site blasting Radio Hauraki. Every element of this track pertains a high distinction of this flavor. A flavor that tastes heavy, grunty, burly and unwashed. A flavor being none other than: shit metal. [5]

Tim Gentles: Like most rock bands in the hard-rocking, hard-drinking, hard-fucking kind of mode, there comes a time when one decides to get the band back together and rock out like old times. It should be noted that the results are never short of embarrassing. This isn’t much better than Shihad, really. [2]

Matthew Plunkett: Unsurprising new single from the Wellington old timers. Smells like a three day old fart. Boogas voice has a cabaret quality. It always sounds to me like he is hamming it up big time. The song tries hard to be tough and rock but comes across as more corny than believable. Hangs its hat on the line: ”Once I was a savage but the savage is dead”, which I could get behind but the music and delivery seems to be at odds with this message. I could possibly nod my head to this if a) I was so drunk I didn’t know where I was or b) I was so drunk I didn’t know who I was. It’s got a bit in it that sounds like Foo Fighters. I just can’t think of why you would play this over a million other bands which do this kind of thing better. It is mediocre but will still soundtrack more than a few bourbon soaked parties – that’s got to be worth something. [4]


  1. If you start a review with “I was 18. I also liked this girl.” – stop writing.

    • foolsgold says:

      I thought liking the Feelers would have been the death knell.

      • The Savage says:

        Next thing he’ll say is the first record he bought was Robbie Williams!
        Do these panel people have any musical taste or are they the ‘Too cool for ROCK’ and only listen to Flying Nun/Dunedin Jangle?

  2. hey mate says:

    sam valentives funny one liners arnt funny just gay

  3. Testerpot says:

    these review thingys seem come from little children with no spine…actually, no…they come from children who’s spines ‘will’ be ripped from their headless torsos while rabid goats feast on their mutilated carcasses, all the while hordes of sweaty moshing West Auckland and Lower Hutt bogans trample their severed heads into a bloody pulp to the sounds of HLAH…….. allegedly and only in a fantasy of course cause I’m sure the writers mums actually love them lots (as well as dress them) and anyway wishing necrotic flesh eating diseases on people is just plain nasty. Sorry got to go, Hauraki has just started a Pink Floyd no repeat woodstock bourbon hour.neep.

  4. matthew says:

    this song sux my review is accurate and great, also i liked tim and maryann’s efforts.

  5. a dozen ranfurly lagers for $10 from Henty’s. $5 for 5 bands all ages at the powerstation.

    Years later, I would see Booga on the nod on the couches of various arch hill flats.

    By that stage I couldn’t shake the association that HLAH were the worst offenders in swapping out the golden age of Flying Nun for a bunch of second rate americanized “alternative” crap. We went from Fits, JPS, Chills, Bats et al to this crock of shite. It was a dark time, alas I was too young to know any different, but I’m sure even then I knew “hootinanny” was completely stupid. Whatever.

    • What the hell did Head Like a Hole have to do with Flying Nun – it was pretty obvious that they were into a totally different style of music. These reviewers have obviously no idea of what Head like a Hole are about and probably the type of people that when asked what music they do like start naming bands that no-ones ever heard of to show how cool they are. Credit where credits due. hlah fucking rock harder at 40 than most 20 year old’s do.

    • So are you tearing strips of the music or the person that is Booga because you haven’t had the success that he has had?

      • Dan Taipua says:

        Yes, that is exactly what they are doing because that totally makes sense and isn’t just your irrational response to a differing viewpoint.

    • Dean Atkinson says:

      Hootenany was a sort of “one word” riff-song. If you care to know, Hamiton joke band Mobile Stud Unit (AKA: M.S.U.) did a reasonably convincing satire of the band with “Head up My Hole”, which was just that syncopated riff during the breakdown with the lead singer demanding that he’s “Booga Beazley” and that he’s arrogant, outspoken and really nobody of any musical worth. Shihad got people going for a while, of course, until it became obvious they were a US style modern rock-post grunge radio metal band with the charm of a belligerent rugbyhead or excited New Zealand PE teacher. Oh yeah, but also, FN had gone downhill in terms of quality also, HDU or PanAm were nothing compared to Straitjacket Fits.

  6. deja voodoo

  7. The Savage says:

    A ‘Panel of writers’ who probably couldn’t hang their balls out at the best of times. In my eyes most NZ music is shite so why not join in? You know what-who cares. If the fans like it then good for them. Thanks guys.

  8. NZZZZZZ says:

    Savage: Say WHY the writers have trouble hanging their balls out or be done with it. Are they too large or is it that they are slippery? Possibly a zipper problem. Clumsy hands?

  9. Dean Atkinson says:

    They are not, nor ever were great – the HLAH “dynasty” revolves around a) some REALLY awful band posters and disc covers, b) their “I’m On Fire”, out of tune and decidedly demo quality and of course the “dance rock” album that was just a series of sexist statements in that godawful all-American by way of drunken Nick Cave voice the singer does. They didn’t reform either; they bitterly hate one another. But that’s what it’s like when you spend more than 20 years getting drunk (and high) with some buddies from Wellington High School. Whats the new stuff like, really? It’s actually better, but only because the old stuff made people cringe and squint in equal amounts.

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