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Hosannas

Then & Now & Then

(Hush; US: 11 May 2010; UK: import)

You could say that Hosannas sound like the Beach Boys, but only if the Beach Boys sang songs about surfing not in the California sun, but in the Shanghai Tunnels of Portland, Oregon. There is a distinctly subterranean feel to the group’s gauzy haze, and Then & Now & Then, which collects two EPs and a few bonus tracks, shows the impressive range of Hosannas’ sound. Like Brian Wilson, these guys love harmony and revel in both the simple joy of a sound, and the power that comes from intricate layering. With Hosannas, though, there’s something far more dissonant to what they are doing. Even as the melodies are warm and inviting, the sounds around them cool and spread out, adding a lonesome air to even the biggest, most bracing tracks. See how “Bee Cave”, which finds the band fittingly singing about the underground, clangs away with programmed noisemakers while at the same time, gliding with boozy keys. Other songs, like “King Crow”, have the band playing something close to straightforward folk, before dragging it down into the white-noise muck that fills the whole collection. It’s no surprise that these songs were all recorded to 4-track cassette, giving this complex sound an approachability and tense compactness that work in its favor. Then & Now & Then is a solid introduction to a new and inventive band, one we’re likely to hear more from in the near future.

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Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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