For a minute, let’s talk personas. Seth Bogart makes music under the name Hunx; you could hear him as a member of the party-punk band Gravy Train!!! across a few albums released a few years ago, and, more recently, you could hear him leading the garage-punk group Hunx and His Punx. With the release of Hairdresser Blues, Hunx has made a further move in the direction of the iconic, complete with an advice column and an LA Record photo shoot that evoked early-1980s Prince. And yet for all that Hunx-the-icon is increasing his visibility, the music made by Bogart (and his bandmates) is increasingly at its best when it’s delving into the personal. Last year’s Too Young To Be In Love closed with the affecting “Blow Me Away,” and Hairdresser Blues — stripped-down and sincere — takes that sensibility even further.
“Your Love is Here to Stay” opens Hairdresser Blues with a catchy, bare-bones melody, a classic punk sound that’s sounded timeless since the late 1970s. (Think Johnny Thunders or Richard Hell; that onetime Voivoids member Ivan Julian recorded this album doesn’t come as much of a surprise.) The mode here is pared-down without being overly stark: the title track in particular has a fullness without quite delving into the low end. And there’s an underlying sweetness to many of the songs here that impresses. For every winking lyrical moment like “I know this night can’t last forever/ But we can make it last all night” (from “Private Room”), there’s an equally stinging one, such as “Say Goodbye Before You Leave,” written in the aftermath of Jay Reatard’s death.
Bogart has moved a long way from the irreverent rave-ups of the Gravy Train!!! days. The rise of the iconic version of Hunx has allowed his music a greater amount of leeway. These aren’t songs simply notable for their attitude or irreverence — they’re a fine collection of songs, period.