Making these lists of the greatest bands/artists by letter is quite fun and a bit challenging at times. There are certain letters that make you really think does this band or artist really belong in a top ten all time list. H is the letter upon us now. Below are my picks for the top (in no particular order). Add to it and help me finish the list!!
3) Jimi Hendrix
4) How To Destroy Angels
5) Husker Du
6) PJ Harvey
7) High On Fire
8) Don Henley
9) George Harrison
Let’s travel back to April 1995 and taking what we all know now, we get to experience Hum’s You’d Prefer An Astronaut for all it’s glory when it came out. Hum was formed in 1989 and released two albums before reaching mainstream exposure with You’d Prefer An Astronaut. The bands 1993 album Electra 2000, was produced by Brad Wood who would soon go on to produce Sunny Day Real Estate’s album Diary. You’d Prefer An Astronaut is Hum’s major label debut album and has gone on to sell over 250,000 copies. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but just as I have said about Failure’s Fantastic Planet, pretty much anyone that picked up this album went on to start a band and become strongly influenced by Hum. Chino Moreno of Deftones has even gone on to say that this album is a big influence in terms of the tones they used. The album is full of atmosphere, depth, and great riffs. There are moments in the song “Why I Like The Robins,” that if you listen to some At the Drive In songs you can really hear Hum’s influence in them. Matt Talbott as a vocalist really knows how to project to get his lyrics across in the right way. Bryan St. Pere is one of hell of an underrated drummer. His knack for the right cymbal accents is quite astonishing. Guitarist Tim Lash blend his playing perfectly well with Talbott’s. And the bass of Jeff Dimpsey is crunchy and full of grit bit also played with the right amount of precision.
Hum have reunited a few times over the years, leaving many fans to wonder if they will come out with a new album. In June 2015, it was announced that Hum would partake in two brief tours. In August 2015, Hum will open for Failure on the east coast of the United States. After that, Hum will embark on a co-headlining tour with the band Mineral on the west coast. Sadly, after the tour was announced, drummer Bryan St. Pere parted ways with the band, but Jason Gerken of Shiner will fill in for him.
Thankfully Hum are back, and along with Failure, will continue to be a huge influence on musicians for years to come. Here’s to hoping that Hum get back in the studio and make a great new album.
It’s truly great to have bands coming out that really get what it means to write pure honest songs, and make music that has real meaning and depth. Enter Chicago’s Sweet Cobra. The band was founded in 2003, and came charging out the gates with the fury and passionate qualities of their hardcore/noise-rock/metal roots mixed with a more straightforward rock delivery. Over the course of their career, Sweet Cobra has played with bands such as Pelican, Russian Circles, Coliseum, Black Cobra, Doomriders, The Life And Times, Young Widows and many more. Sweet Cobra toured relentlessly throughout the beginning of their career and released a myriad of recorded material, including three LPs, 2004’s Praise through Seventh Rule Recordings, 2007’s Forever through Hawthorne Street Records, and 2010’s Mercy on Blackmarket Activities, not to mention splits with Doomriders, Young Widows among others. Sadly, tragedy struck in 2009 when second guitarist Mat Arluck lost his ongoing fight with cancer. Sweet Cobra went on as a three piece and pushed forward, playing shows, constructing new material, and exploring new sounds. Now in 2014 the band is gearing up to release Earth through Magic Bullet Records. The band’s triumphant new LP was recorded and produced by Matt Talbot of Hum and Kurt Ballou of Converge, and also features guest musical contributions from each artist. This album is sure to be a sonic blast of genuine awesomeness.
The 90’s sound of quiet to loud has always played a large role in rock music. The ability to take a delicate melodic part and transition it to a loud and heavy part takes the right amount of patience and creativity. Machines Learning have honed their craft of being able to do just that. Hailing from San Diego, California, this three piece band has taken their influences of Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Hum, and Sunny Day Real Estate and blended them into a powerful sound. Singer/Guitarist Paul William Balmer has a very subtle yet very textured voice that compliments the loud dirty guitars. The bass sound that Bradley Botbyl has borders on the 90’s sound and the more modern sludge of heavier bands. The drums are thunderous when it needs to be and understated when those softer parts come in. Machines Learning have released 2 exquisite EP’s, and from the sound of them , they are surely headed on the right path.
In this quiet resurgence of artistic rock that we are currently in, a lot of previous overlooked bands (Failure, Hum, Shiner, etc) are finally getting their due and have influenced countless new bands. Now enter City Of Ships into the fold. Having been around awhile and making a mark for themselves, their blend of hard rock and post hardcore is undeniable and captivating. As a three piece that packs this much of a punch is spectacular. Their last album Minor World (released by Translation Loss) is 10 songs deep of nothing but raw emotion, and well thought out melodies. Songs like “Clotilde” “Low Countries” and “Chainman” are heavy and have melody running through it constantly. Currently City of Ships are working on their new album to be released in 2014.
There truly is a great deal of great music that has gone unheard. In this day and age of DIY mentality its a shame that so many have to go unheard my the masses. Enter (Damn) This Desert Air, hailing from New Jersey. They were formed in 2007. They have a distinct melodic rock sound that is infused with space rock riffs and post-hardcore. Picture Quicksand, Failure, Hum, and Stone Temple Pilots all together. (Damn) This Desert Air have appeared on numerous compilations, samplers, tribute album appearances on both the Failure and Hum Tributes. (Damn) This Desert Air have had their previous albums/E.P’s mixed by Brian Virtue. Their most recent album Pyramids is catchy and infectious. The opening track “Hanger” is full of melodic hooks. The song “Slave” takes the direction of space rock and shows the more delicate side the band all the while keeping their hard edge. The album also includes a cover of Quicksand’s “Shovel.”
(Damn) This Desert Air have melded their influences into something that is loud and booming yet doesn’t take away from the purity of the songs. They are really on to something, and hopefully can make their way out to the West Coast for some shows.
Hailing from San Francisco is Sidewave. Their music is best described as a cross between shoe gaze, post hardcore and alternative. Pretty much if you can picture Failure, Siamese Dream era Smashing Pumpkins, and Hum mixed together then you can get a glimpse of how Sidewave sounds. Their most recent release “Big Time” is full of lush sounds and powerful guitars and drums. the vocals are sail through each song in a soothing way as to not distract from the music. The songs “sundrop” “illusion of light” and “new attack” are quite provocative. Sidewave are the real deal with something to show and tell everyone.