Named after Adolfas Mekas’ cult ‘60s film, Hallelujah The Hills rose from the grave of the Boston band, The Stairs, on the night of that group’s last show. Their debut, Collective Psychosis Begone, is on the great Misra Records, and it’s an unpredictable collection of mostly indie rock tunes, some slow some fast. They have an unusual sound, coming from the range of instruments included: bass, drums, cello, Moog, trumpet, melodica, sampler and multiple guitars. You’ll go from boogifed funk, through straightforward rock, skate around the edge of folk and blues, and end up with slow and moody melancholy, all in the space of this one album. That, coupled with unusual songwriting styles and structures make for an album that sometimes hits, occasionally misses, and never gets dull.
For example, “To All My Scientist Colleagues, I Bid You Farewell” is for fans of the Mountain Goats. It’s a yearning song that explores the meaning of life through the perspective of a boy who doesn’t want to have to die to find out if there’s a God. But “It’s All Been Downhill Since The Talkies Started to Sing” is electrified, with punk vocal distortion. The only thing these cuts have in common is long and complicated titles. “Trap” is more accessible (albeit a little long), but “Effie’s On The Other Side,” with it’s Black Sabbath opening and Byrds-fuzz guitar is the real gem on this album. I also like their anthem, “Sleeper Agent,” which drifts along, propelled by strings. I think it’s about a guy who needs sleep, not a terrorist, but I can’t be sure. Like much of the record, it’s more than a little cryptic.
They even have their own fight song to motivate fans and further their fame, just like Living Colour (“What’s Your Favorite Colour? Living Colour!”), the Fu-Shnickers (“I am a true, what? A true Fu Shnick!”), Bad Company (“Baaaaaaaaad Company, and I can’t deny it!”), and Jerry Garcia’s great bluegrass band, “Old and in the Way.”
Hallelujah the Hills has promised to make 33 albums before breaking up. For now, I’m looking forward to at least the next one, anyway.
Wave Backwards To Massachusetts-HTH
Effie’s On the Other Side-HTH
The House Is All Lit Up-HTH
To All My Scientist Colleagues I Bid You Farewell (Demo)-HTH
Hallelujah The Hills-Hallelujah The Hills