A Hundred Highways
Lord Knows Best
Editors’ Notes Taiwanese-born Canadian indie musician Alex Zhang Hungtai finally bequeaths Badlands, his debut full-length vocal album. Here Hungtai’s creativity culminates in lo-fi experimental post-rockabilly. “Speedway King” opens with a hypnotic mantra of minimally mechanical sounding drums that recall those of the band Suicide. Over these haunting rhythms Hungtai croons in a curious accent with the slippery inflections of a young Elvis Presley. “Horses” follows with similarly plodding rhythms as a ‘50s guitar tone reverberates through a continuous riff while Hungtai’s voice simmers down to sound like a young Roy Orbison singing on a David Lynch soundtrack. Hungtai ingeniously foregoes a guitar solo for a bridge where he instead implements manipulation of the spring in a reverb chamber to create some vintage sounding noise-rock that sounds both menacing and sexy. He whisper-sings in the libidinous “Sweet 17” over more riff repetition creating an atmosphere where those ‘50s juvenile delinquents from Karlheinz Weinberger’s photos run rampant. The serpentine “Hotel” closes with Hungtai returning to his spooky instrumental style.