I can not think of a single band operating today that could not be improved by the addition of a theremin. Seriously. For a band like Boston’s Hallelujah the Hills, whose sound combines the layered arrangements of a folkier Brian Wilson with the pop sensibilities of XTC or Arcade Fire, it seems like a no-brainer.
Saturday night, they will stop by Cowboy Monkey on tour in support of their newest record, Colonial Drones. World’s First Flying Machine, Jookabox and Zach May & the Maps round out the bill.
When navigating through tracks available on Hallelujah the Hills’ MySpace or YouTube clips, the emotional connection of vocalist Ryan Walsh to his lyrics is palpable. In a band that adds a cello, moog, organ and brass section (so theremin would be the next logical step, right?), the beacon of Walsh’s poignant lyricism often shines through the haze of layered instrumentation.
That is not to say that the rest of the band is usurped by Walsh. Songs like “Classic Tapes” from Colonial Drones showcases all the reasons the rest of the band is worthy of showcasing. Brian Rutledge’s horn playing harkens back to more solemn Herb Alpert numbers at times while Elio DeLuca’s organ provides the perfect underbelly for more upbeat tracks.
With three records in the past three years under their belt and a slew of dates across the U.S. this fall, Hallelujah the Hills are beginning to find their place in line with the likes of other notable Boston bands like the Pixies and Mission of Burma.
The bill’s other out of town act, Indiana’s Jookabox, comes from an entirely different corner. Primarily the musical outlet for frontman David “Moose” Adamson, Jookabox carries an ironically sexy swagger. Tracks like “The Girl Ain’t Preggers” hints at Eagles of Death Metal dance vibes while others like “Phantom Don’t Go” (from their to-be-released second record, Dead Zone Boys, on Asthmatic Kitty Records) contain traces of Beastie Boys influence. Meanwhile, other tracks like “You Cried Me” are borderline Appalachian hillbilly folk. Maybe a theremin could tie it all together.
If Jookabox’s diversity isn’t puzzling enough, Dead Zone Boys (due out November 3) is a musical anomaly in itself. As a record with a “love-story meets psychedelic zombie-musical to the masses” theme, one can’t help but be intrigued. Asthmatic Kitty fully backs the record, which is evidence enough that it should be worth the cash. Per Asthmatic Kitty’s preview:
“It is nothing less than the definitive soundtrack to humanity’s last stand against decay and the dead. With a mic in one hand and shotgun in the other, Jookabox pushes through as troubador and protagonist to free the decayed city and its few outposed survivors from the fear of death. He is our protector, no need to lose hope.”
Ambitious? You bet. But I think Jookabox’s “If you can’t win them over, just confuse the hell out of them” approach is all too appropriate.
The show starts at 9:30 p.m. and admission is $5 before 10 p.m. and $7 after.