Jesse Jarnow

“wave backwards to massachusetts” – hallelujah the hills

“Wave Backwards to Massachusetts” – Hallelujah the Hills (download) (buy)
from Collective Psychosis Begone (2007)
released by Misra

(file expires May 24th)

It was the song titles — “It’s All Been Downhill Since the Talkies Started To Sing,” “To All My Scientist Colleagues I Bid You Farewell” — that got me to listen to Hallelujah the Hills. Historical accuracies aside (the first talkie, Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer, sure sung) I’m glad I did, because the music is every bit as original. I love the first 30 seconds of “Wave Backwards to Massachusetts,” and like the rest a great deal. In some ways, it sounds like smart, vintage ’90s power pop as arranged by Neutral Milk Hotel, or some other ragged-but-right indie outfit. That is, pretty much every instrumental part here could be played by some combination of clean & dirty electric guitars, carefully layered. Instead, we get acoustic, trumpet, cello, and distorted vocal. It’s all oversaturated emotion, that particular trait of turn-of-the-century indie rock, and it’s really enjoyable. Besides having a trumpet player and a cellist (and who doesn’t these days?), Hallelujah the Hills don’t seem to have a particular gimmick. And that’s awesome. They’re just a really good band. I’m not sure if that really flies anymore, but maybe the existence of their Collective Psychosis Begone debut, out next month on Misra, is gimmick enough.

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