White Hills

Heads on Fire

by Craig Hayes

8 December 2011


Supernova delights guaranteed.

cover art

White Hills

Heads on Fire

US: 8 Nov 2011
UK: 24 Oct 2011

Heads on Fire was the second album from space rock overlords White Hills. Long out of print, it’s been recently reissued on CD via the band’s original label, Rocket Recordings. White Hills have since gone on to record a number of acclaimed releases for label Thrill Jockey—all of which are well worth listening to—but Heads on Fire takes us back to when the band was taking its first steps into the chimerical void.

Drifting along a cosmically inclined spectrum of Kraut, space, psych and fuzzed out, reverb-heavy rock, White Hills are ardent peddlers of sublimely extraterrestrial wares. Beginning with the swirling synth and rolling, buzzing riffs of “Radiate”, Heads on Fire moves from one frenzied, corkscrewing solo to the next, with accompanying flourishes of exuberant percussion, thumping bass and beautifully warped keyboards. With a focus on the heavier, grittier aspects of space rock, White Hills toss out some thoroughly wicked and no doubt illicitly-inspired jams. “Ocean of Sounds” resonates with chanted vocal lines and huge, raw riffs. “Visions of the Past, Present and Future” is pure psychotropic madness, smothered in corpulent dollops of Hawkwind-like instability, and the 26-minute “Don’t Be Afraid” works its way towards its constellational climax with passages of twirling ambience and plenty of wah-wah lunacy. It’s a supernova delight, to say the least, and it’s gloriously hypnotic.
If you’re a fan of Wooden Shjips, Nebula, Cave, OM or Gnod you’d do well to check this out, although I’m guessing you already have. For the uninitiated, Heads on Fire is the perfect place to begin your journey into the endless galaxies of psychedelic rock.

Heads on Fire



We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong online. Please consider a donation to support our work as an independent publisher devoted to the arts and humanities. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where advertising no longer covers our costs. We need your help to keep PopMatters publishing. Thank you.


//Mixed media

20 Questions: Nashville Singer-Songwriter Natalie Hemby

// Sound Affects

"Natalie Hemby's Puxico is a standout debut from a songwriter who has been behind the scenes for over a decade.

READ the article