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A Night at the Besties Oct 23, 2014 Celebrate CityBeat's "Best of San Diego" issue with live music from Little Hurricane and Steph Johnson, performances from the Fern Street Circus, an art exhibit from the Dream Machine Arts Collective, a mobile video arcade by Coin Op North Park and more. 60 other events on Thursday, October 23
 
Fall Arts
Epic San Diego Museum of Art exhibition promises a textbook lesson in the evolution of modern works
Editorial
Kevin Faulconer’s likely to tack left on sustainability
Film
Adaptation of Patricia Highsmith novel tops our coverage of movies screening around town
News
With few specifics on who they were looking for, officers held the wrong man at gunpoint
Theater
Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s musical leads our rundown of local plays

 

 
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Wednesday, Jun 27, 2012

Hyena keeps a cool head on new EP

Electro-pop duo flirts with Maroon 5 and dubstep

By Peter Holslin

Hyena WeAreHyena (self-released)

Hyena has moves like Maroon 5. They have bass like Skrillex. On their new EP, WeAreHyena, they seem to have exactly what a band needs to make it in the “Electronic Dance Music” world.

It wasn’t always like this. In a CityBeat feature back in October 2010, the electro-pop duo touted its ability to bridge the gap between North Park indie kids (or “scraggle-muffins,” as drummer Michael Cooper so amusingly called them) and Downtown club-goers (aka “balloon boobies”). But times have changed; “Moves Like Jagger” is a hit, and so-called “EDM” has blown up big-time. And while WeAreHyena—a six-track sampler of a forthcoming full-length LP—does have scraggle-muffin-friendly guitar, some tracks come across like a shrewd attempt to attract balloon boobies and their EDM-loving, Maroon 5-listening ilk.

Just listen to “Never Enough,” in which a dollop of robotic sub bass has “dubstep” written all over it (though, to the band’s credit, the bass never gets loud or crazy enough to really match Skrillex levels of spectacle). And then there’s “One Eye,” which rides on a whistling hook that sounds like it could’ve been cut straight from Maroon 5’s much more famous whistling hook. Indeed, when I first put the song on, I thought I was listening to a remix.

I’m not sure what Hyena’s trying to do here. Are they looking to capitalize on EDM’s popularity and maybe rake in some of those big festival bucks? Or are they wearing their influences on their sleeves, probably a little too obviously?

Fortunately, the duo keeps a cool head even at its most ham-fisted. Cooper’s straightforward beats are nice and tight.

Bryan Stratman never goes overboard with his multi-layered mix of vocals, synths and guitar. The result is often quite sexy: With its glimmering textures, candy-coated hooks and pulsating bass, the dreamy EP highlight, “Sweet Lies,” is as silky-smooth as Astroglide.

The duo’s 2010 debut, We See You, is still the stronger effort. In terms of sheer infectiousness, nothing on WeAre- Hyena quite tops bangers like “Anyone’s Guess” or “Kiss it Off.” But it’s still better than half the stuff the balloon boobies Downtown listen to—and some of those scraggle-muffins might just dig it, too.

Hyena plays at El Dorado on Saturday, June 30, and Sunday, July 1.


Email peterh@sdcitybeat.com or follow him on Twitter at @peterholslin.




 
 
 
 
 
 
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