Hedvig Mollestad Trio: Shoot!
Rune Grammofon

Shoot! is a fabulous debut set of guitar-led jazz-rock from axesmith extraordinaire Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen, bassist Ellen Brekken (acoustic and electric), and drummer Ivar Loe Bjørnstad. In keeping with its direct and unfussy title, the album's nine tunes cut to the chase, moving quickly and effortlessly from metalesque throwdowns to delicate balladry with aplomb. With no song exceeding six minutes and three no longer than three, Shoot! exemplifies an admirable degree of clarity, focus, and concentration in its song-styled pieces. Even more impressive, the album was recorded live, so the trio's tightness is no product of in-studio sleight-of-hand.

An ideal opener, “Gun and the E-Kid” bolts from the gate with a bluesy three-minute take on math-rock that doesn't drown in over-complexity. The trio rips into some wild psychedelia heaviness while also navigating a proggy time signature like it's the easiest thing in the world. “Ashes” then finds the band getting both deliciously funky and earthy in a groove-heavy head-nodder that allows Mollestad to indulge in some raw, Jeff Beck-styled riffing. “For the Air” oozes a stoner rock sensibility in its Sabbath-styled slowcore, and in certain moments threatens to collapse altogether in a mess of noise and howl, while Mollestad's affection for punk and grunge comes through in a suitably heavy cover of Melvins' “Blood Witch.” The group's more lyrical and delicate side comes to the fore during the jazz balladry of “Doom's Lair,” where both Brekken's acoustic playing and Mollestad's textural side get ample room to shine, and during the slow drift of the bluesy closing track, “The Valley.”

Though all of the trio's members impress, Mollestad's stands out as a particularly dynamic player capable of deftly moving from one style to another at light-speed, whether it be heavy riffing or textural nuance. She comes across as someone who, after years of woodshedding and absorbing the work of other guitarists, has developed a voice and attack all her own, even if it bears traces of those precursors. There's nothing tentative about her playing, and the same can be said for the equally assured playing of her band-mates.

December 2011