The concept of doing a record release show has gotten further and further away from its literal meaning, especially in the digital age. But Hands and Knees are bringing their brand new “Wholesome” album back to basics tonight.
“We didn’t even do a CD, we just did vinyl,” says guitarist Scott Hoffman, who also engineered the recording. He is standing in the Somerville kitchen of singer and bassist Carina Kelly, who is preparing brunch, while drummer Nicholas Branigan and singer and guitarist Joe O’Brien set the ink on the new T-shirts they just printed up.
In keeping with the do-it-yourself code, O’Brien is eager to give credit where credit is due.
“We just did vinyl and it’s very limited edition,” he says. “It’s 400, and 100 of them are screen-printed by this guy, Mike Swiatlowski.”
Although they sound proud to have done so much themselves, “Wholesome” has a layered dynamic about it that sounds anything but amateur. There are well-learned elements of sing-along punk and hyperactive soul, mixed in with laid-back country harmonies and spooky melodies that would make a lot of sense in a David Lynch film. And while the instruments seem to be carefully interlocked in a way that they’re never stepping on each other, most of the songs still maintain the rip-roaring energy of their live show.
“Most of the songs on this one, we intentionally played out a bunch before we recorded them,” says O’Brien. “Songs from the first two records, we recorded them in their infant stage, which is very exciting in a certain way, but you realize after you’ve played a song 20 or 30 times that it goes to a certain place that you wouldn’t have imagined, but then you’re in a situation where you’ve put the album out already and it’s done.”
With “Wholesome,” it feels like they take these songs to the exact place where they want to be.