Biscuits, Triscuits…

Hallelujah The Hills- Colonial Drones
October 12, 2009, 9:53 pm
Filed under: music and musings

A couple weeks ago, I went to the CD release show for Hallelujah the Hills’ second full-length Colonial Drones, which I had the pleasure of receiving before their Sept.22 release date but was too busy to write about until now. The great thing about this Boston band is that while they manage to transport the sounds straight from the record onto the stage, their live show is also somewhat theatrical and the emotions are just as strong, if not more so, live than on the album. The set began with an ambient jam session that was extremely dissonant and untuned and quickly came together to create the first song. The group mentality that is present both on and off the album is really endearing and while Walsh is the songwriter/ringleader, there is a real brotherhood, a warmth and strength that comes out of their music. That being said, I am very excited to write about their second album released off Misra that is available now! Buy it if you like it!

Hallelujah The Hills

Colonial Drones


It always comes down to the second full-length right? The test of whether you make the cut? I’ve been watching Hills for a while now, waiting to be bored or not entertained but it never happens. They sometimes fit into a sound that could so easily risk being dubbed as overdone and un-interesting. With the names of Wilco and Mountain Goats ringing through one’s head, there is still something about Hallelujah the Hills that surpasses just being grouped into that genre.  Ryan Walsh’s passionate, strange, puzzle piece lyrics find themselves extracted from what could be a wacky work of literature and placed in beautifully orchestrated songs with urgent instrumentals and choral chants.

There’s a local, aesthetic quality to their sound; it’s relatable, well-written, and manages to make sense lyrically despite the “out-there” aspects of the writing. The vagueness of the lyrics is also one that is so well-known and intrusive that it’s hard not to feel as though you are one of the many voices singing along on the album. In the soulful tune “Put The Gurus in Charge,” Walsh starts off slowly. He sings, Here we are where we thought we began/lost and high and burnt out with no back up plan. He brings it right into something familiar and that’s it; as the trumpets blare and the whole family sings repeatedly, You were brought here by design/now you live until you die, it doesn’t matter if one knows exactly what just happened in the song, what matters is they are a part of it. Tunes like “Station,”  a quick, quiet piece with keys and guitar, as well as “Classic Tapes,” show off so perfectly one of my favorite things of HtH, and that is how they scream. It’s not like soul screeching screams that sound painful and hard to make out, these are bellowing, heart pumping, exciting yells of joy or heartache, but they feel more honest than some of the most emotional sounding singers.

Colonial Drones is a nonsensical collage of thoughts exploding into gorgeous melodic noise, samples and quirky sounds. Using Balkan sounding horns, lively backup vocals, and dynamics in quality and volume, Hills shows off an aged quality, an ability to continue to put out interesting, experimental music. With whirring, windy strings, and an assortment of instrumentals, including a whistling chorus, there’s a feeling of camaraderie with the band; how they all come together in what feels like a big gluey, emotional, melodic mess. The album itself reveals in splices that while everything is so well recorded, there is a rawness, and edge-y style, an openness that makes it more than just likable music, it’s well-done music that holds up every single time.

-Lauren Piper


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