Hi Red Center Architectural Failures

[Pangaea Recordings; 2006]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: dense, chaotic pop music, jazz/spazz rock
Others: Deerhoof, Oneida, Aloha, U.S. Maple

Here's a lesson, kiddies: when you're choosing bands to sound like, don't be afraid to choose some fucking amazing ones. Hi Red Center didn't neglect this old chestnut, settling on Deerhoof and Erase Errata to inform their sound. Not so fast, chippy... no, there's no female vocalist. Or females of any sort in the band. And they're not from the Bay Area. But that's what I hear when I listen to this album. Deerhoof might be a cheap comparison, being that they don't sound a whole lot like each other, but share an awful lot of musical gestures. No fear of silence and spaciousness. Defiant diversity. Snapping angularity. Less than melodious synthesizers. I'm sure its not, but I'll assert that this is a ghetto of indie rock that Deerhoof carved out and lords over, putting HRC smack dab in their fiefdom. Erase Errata's propulsion and energy and grittiness are copped. On the more straight-ahead rock tunes, HRC powers through them with some sense of (calculated?) abandon. This is decidedly NOT punk, which EE decidedly IS, but there is a touch of the well crafted looseness that they championed.

Something all three bands have in spades is exceeding musicianship. But this might be the biggest knock I have against HRC. They are a band that will surely be appreciated by fellow musicians, for their top-flight technicality and composition, but perhaps not by a more casual listener. Most of the songs don't have the heart or balls that rock music should have; you can hear them trying to please their buddies in other bands. This is not to say that they're not uniformly good songs; they are. And some do grab hold of that part of me that wants passion. The opener "Red/Green" has surging guitars that stumble along with the drums into granularly sliding synths that birth the most FELT vocals on the album. When all the instruments meet synergistically the couple times they're all rolling, it sounds like everything I'd want out of indie rock. "Eureka" (my favorite) and "Famous Hero" are, respectively, theatrically and operatically themed. In "Eureka," the vocalist tips us off to it, yelping comically soaring vocals, with the instruments playing bumbling counterparts. "Famous Hero" has the operatic duality of orchestration and vocalizations, pushing and pulling at each other for stardom within the song, capped off with a triumphant duet aria. These are fun songs, especially for someone looking for craftsmanship in their music (music critic). But, unlike their aesthetic godparents, they don't seize you with a powerful vitality. But hats are always off to inventiveness in rock music.

1. Red/Green
2. Captain Waltz
3. Evil Doer
4. Magic Teeth
5. Hollow Buttons
6. Alarm Will Sound
7. Eureka
8. Famous Hero
9. Oskar
10. Bunnies Are Full Of Magic

Most Read