Hemi Cuda

When Heart’s Ann Wilson purred Oooh, barracuda, it did more than cue a rollicking riff progression — it sparked a revolution, assuring a generation of female guitarists that folk wasn’t their only option. Twenty-five years later, Anika Zappe exudes similar confidence while singing Hemi-fuckin’-Cuda, declaring her Denver-based band’s name in a phrase that’s nearly a rhythmic match for the “Barracuda” signature line. Granted, the music’s faster, bringing to mind a thrashier version of the Sex Pistols’ mauling of “Stepping Stone,” and Heart’s necessary-at-the-time subtlety is absent. (Even if they could have done so without igniting controversy, it’s hard to imagine the Wilson sisters would have described their band on record as a drum monster and two fucking whores.)

Around the time Heart set adrift its Dreamboat, the Stooges and MC5 proved that something noisier and more powerful than a ’61 Corvette could emerge from a garage, and Hemi Cuda dutifully follows the grease trails. High on personality, as indicated by its choice of cover art (an amusing twist on the airbrushed abomination that graced many of the vans that were a-rockin’ in the ’70s), but low on innovation, Hemi Cuda is musically indistinguishable from dozens of scuzzy road dogs.

Perhaps that’s a sign of the progress that’s been made since Heart’s breakthrough. A quarter of a century after mostly male arena crowds considered Heart a novelty act (albeit a talented one), today’s mostly male dive-bar crowds aren’t surprised when two women and a fella rock them just as hard as the four guys who played the previous night.

Categories: Music