Hanson Brothers

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Gross Misconduct

Hanson Brothers - Gross Misconduct ©1992 Alternative Tentacles
1. No Emotion
2. It's A Secret
3. A Night Without You
4. My Girlfriend's A Robot
5. Sabrina
6. Butthead
7. Go Away
8. Comatose
9. Road Pizza
10. No More Headcheese
11. Duke It Out
12. Lovesick
13. Jack Off
14. Total Goombah!
15. Blitzkrieg Hops
16. You Are Not For Me
17. Bad

From the parody of the Road to Ruin album cover to the straightforward punk rock assault, Gross Misconduct is Ramones idolization, pure and simple. This could be filed away under basic hero worship if not for one thing: The Hanson Brothers utterly blow away their mentors in every way imaginable.

It's no secret that the Hanson Brothers are essentially a side project of NoMeansNo's Wright brothers and Tom Holliston (know as Tommy, Johnny and Robbie Hanson here), paying tribute to the band that inspired them to play punk rock as well as allowing their hockey fan side to have a part of their music. Several songs have hockey references and the song "Duke It Out" is about the Unified Team from the former Soviet Union. What the Hanson Bros. do throughout this excellent album is nothing but refine the formula the Ramones created. However, while the Ramones were limited by their own talent shortcomings, the Hanson Bros. are not and in fact play this simple three chord punk with marvelous skill, adding a layer of depth where many bands are unable to tread. The songs are simple but have so much energy that you can't help but pogo along with them. The second side of this album is nothing more and nothing less than a juggernaut of intense adrenaline charged fun punk being played at its finest. The lyrics are pretty silly, as "No More Headcheese" will attest, but they're delivered well by Johnny Hanson. You will be forced to sing along, under threat of a hockey stick being delivered at full force to your noggin. The album is terribly infectious and simply provides a healthy dose of good, violent fun.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2001

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Sudden Death

Hanson Brothers - Sudden Death ©1996 Virgin Music Canada
1. The Hockey Song
2. Stick Boy
3. We're Brewing
4. Not For Mary Lou
5. You Can't Hide The Heino
6. Third Man In
7. Danielle (She Don't Care About Hockey)
8. I Will Never Forget Her
9. Four Heads, One Brain
10. Rink Rat
11. Pea, Pie And Pud
12. I'll Ask The 8-ball
13. My Problem
14. He Looked Alot Like Tiger Williams
15. Sudden Death

The biggest problem for a side project that was meant to be a one-off thing is that when you decide to follow up your first release, there is the inevitable sense of letdown. Hanson Brothers' first release, Gross Misconduct, was meant to be a fun little tribute to the Ramones and hockey, yet the side project for Nomeansno became a minor institution and couldn't be put to rest so easily. Four years after the initial album, the Hanson Brothers returned with another album full of odes to hockey, girls and beer brewing called Sudden Death.

With Gross Misconduct being one of my all time favorite punk records, Sudden Death had a lot to live up to and for quite some time I never was willing to let myself enjoy the CD. Although the concept of singing about hockey over a Ramones' styled formula is still quite intact, there was just something missing in the outcome. However, given a few years since I last listened to this CD, it seems that Sudden Death didn't deserve such a quick epitaph after all. Fact of the matter is that Sudden Death simply won't be as good as the debut, but it's still quite good for Ramones type of punk. Between catchy, anthemic tunes like "Danielle (She Don't Care About Hockey)" or "The Hockey Song" and the riproaring, bouncy tunes like "Rink Rat" or "Four Heads, One Brain", there's more than a few fun songs to give the CD its due respect. Singer Johnny Hanson does happen to sound a bit more like his brother Robbie (best known for losing the hockey mask and singing for Nomeansno) with a little more bass in his voice than before. Blame that on age. Besides, eventually we all want to sound like Rob Wright anyhow.

Nothing will replace my fond spot for Gross Misconduct, but I'm pleased that I gave Sudden Death a second chance. For a band that started as a lark, they've certainly become a very identifiable group that is more fun than a box of Viagra at the nursing home. "Mary Lou" will certainly be pleased to hear that.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2003

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My Game

Hanson Brothers - My Game ©2002 Mint Records
1. My Game
2. Give Me Anything
3. Everything I Wanted
4. 100 + 10%
5. They Made Her Mine
6. Tranquil
7. I've Been There
8. Get It Right Back
9. I Know You
10. Unsung Heroes
11. Honey, I'm Home
12. Rookie Of The Year
13. Let's Go Out Tonight
14. Joey Had To Go
15. The Last Canadian Boy

For a project that was meant to be a one-off joke band, Hanson Brothers are surely getting a lot of miles out of their Ramones-styled vehicle. Now officially on their third album and ten years into existence as the less-cerebral alter ego of Nomeansno, Hanson Brothers are skating on icecloud nine. My Game is a peppy, energetic and great sounding Ramones album, which is terribly important in a post Joey Ramone world.

On the band's last album, Sudden Death, Hanson Brothers didn't come across as strongly as they did on their debut, Gross Misconduct. However, all that has been rectified for My Game, as this is as lively, fun and catchy as the debut from a decade ago. The most notable thing about My Game is the ease with which the Hanson Brothers churn out the fun, bouncy and anthemic songs. Everything here is instantly memorable, poppy and easy to sing along with. In short, everything a good Ramones record should be. Granted, the Hanson Brothers are their own entity, but you can't deny the fact that the songwriting is derived from the early Ramones music. And considering these Hanson Brothers are normally the naturally weird Nomeansno crew in their normal guise, coming up with fifteen pop driven songs may be a bigger challenge than writing their normal meandering progressive punk.

The production on My Game is also quite impressive, giving the music a loud, clear edge that makes you simply want to crank this in your car and then drive down the highway at ridiculous rates of speed. Johnny Hanson's voice seems to have lowered over the years, making him sound a bit more like that bass playing kin of his. Nevertheless, it has the right amount of gritty melody to make it something you will want to sing along with. Roll the windows down while you do it. Other cars need to know why you're having such a grand time while they dull their senses to Sting.

My Game is definitely a fun filled romp that makes me want to take a hockey stick and break things, preferably in your house because I kind of like my stuff.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2003

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Brad EP

Hanson Brothers - Brad EP ©2003 Wrong Records
1. Brad
2. Hey, There Goes That Kid
3. Stay Home
4. Punch Me Doll
5. Boy Away From Home
6. Rink Rat Video

The original Brad 7" was released over ten years ago, but with the resurgence of the Hanson Brothers over the past couple of years, Brad has been reissued with some bonus features that you can't quite pack onto a seven inch single. For instance, despite what vinyl enthusiasts claim, CD-Rom video doesn't work too well on the vinyl format. Besides the video, the Hanson Brothers provide us with three outtakes from the Sudden Death sessions. The EP isn't necessarily designed to supplant any of your favorite Hanson Brothers records, but it does provide a nice bookend, particularly if indeed the Hanson Brothers decide to retire from hockey any time soon.

"Brad" finds the band doing a Weird Al on their cerebral alter-egos, Nomeansno. The original version, "Dad", was quite sinister, but "Brad" is about an annoying kid brother and doesn't feature quite as much family dysfunction. The three Sudden Death outtakes are all uniformly pretty decent, with "Stay Home" being a bit better than the others. You also get the B-side to the original Brad 7". The real treat is the highly amusing "Rink Rat" video, recorded live in London. The band's stage show is always a hoot and you get to see all the details from drummer Ernie Hanson's wandering around the stage in a daze to Tommy Hanson's drooling. What more could you ask? The only thing that would make this more authentic is the stench of locker room sweat that pervades every Hanson Brothers show.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/2003

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It's a Living

Hanson Brothers - It's a Living ©2008 Wrong Records
1. Tommy Speaks
2. Total Goombah
3. Duke It Out
4. Give Me Anything
5. Third Man In
6. Everything I Wanted
7. No Emotion
8. Four Heads One Brain
9. Tommy Speaks Again
10. Stick Boy
11. No More Headcheese
12. Road Pizza
13. We're Brewing
14. My Game
15. 100 and 10%
16. Cabbage in a Bag
17. Tranquil
18. More Tommy
19. Sabrina
20. Comatose
21. Danielle (She Don't Care About Hockey)
22. We're Bad
23. Joey Had to Go
24. The Hockey Song
25. Let's Go Out Tonight
26. Sudden Death
27. Shut Up Tommy

Erupting from the bowels of the Canadian hockey underbelly, the Hanson Brothers re-emerged in 2008 with a live record called It's a Living, reprising their roles as the smelly rock'n'roll savants. The album was obstensibly recorded in the unlikely location of Coaldale, Alberta, in 2006. Much like the Ramones' infamous live album It's Alive, it's entirely possible portions were overdubbed from Robbie Hanson's bedroom, but that's just an unconfirmed rumor for the time being.

Although the Hanson Brothers have but three mere studio albums in their decade and a half (plus 10%) existence, they have more than enough material to pack in a solid setlist. The band are veteran performers who have made the stage the best spot to enjoy the Hanson Brothers. Aside from the high octane music, the banter, wit and antics of the various Brothers makes for a great night out. The jibber-jabber between Johnny and Tommy Hanson is hilarious. It should be noted that Tommy Hanson's stream of consciousness observations and commentary are never the same from night to night, although it's been noted Johnny Hanson seems to stick to a basic script. In fact, this album splices in excerpts from a CBC interview featuring Tommy Hanson that makes the purchase entirely worthwhile. You will finally have the definitive answer as to the difference between the Hanson Brothers and the pop band Hanson.

Some live albums are strictly filler to pad out contractual obligations, but considering the Hanson Brothers are independent from any such thing, this record's agenda was strictly to have an excuse to go out on tour. Thanks to the bonus DVD of Johnny Hanson's Brewing Video and the various Tommy Hanson rantings, It's a Living is a very worthwhile inclusion in the band's discography.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/2009

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