March 7, 2010

That Was The Show That Was: The Hush Now | Great Scott | 6 March

[UPDATE: Now includes The Hush Now's South By Southwest schedule below. -- Ed.] Some serious woodshedding in recent months and key lineup changes have elevated Boston-based indie pop concern The Hush Now from surprisingly-good-under-the-circumstances to downright formidable. Where previously the band in the live setting somehow over-achieved while admittedly under-rehearsing (typically due to a revolving door of sidemen), Saturday night the band was confident and more than capable. In short, they killed it. If bandleader Noel Kelly and his cohort can recreate Saturday's spirited set six times over during that many planned gigs at South By Southwest, The Hush Now may finally garner the level of awareness -- even acclaim -- that it deserves.

Late in 2009 Mr. Kelly was faced with yet another vacancy in the lineup when the band's former bassist decamped to Philadelphia. Only months prior he had to replace a lead guitarist, and fortune certainly shined upon Kelly when he was able to bring affable, imaginative lead player Adam Quane aboard. But perhaps an even more important acquisition was bassist Pat MacDonald, whose playing Saturday night reminded us of how a good rhythm section should work. In indie rock it is de rigueur for bass players to do their own thing, which usually means players foregoing the rhythmic portion of their role in favor of filling out the low end and occasionally augmenting melody. However, Mr. MacDonald thrilled us by not only being completely fluent with the repertoire, but even more so by playing directly to (and at times smartly against) The Hush Now's brilliantly understated drummer Barry Marino. We literally hadn't seen this sort of ball-in-socket playing since the short-lived career of the incredible Joey Sweeney Rock Band in the mid-'90s, which featured Brian McShane on bass and Rob Viola on drums. With MacDonald and Marino playing as a unit, The Hush Now now has dazzling sonic dimension over and above (or more accurately, under and below) the Kitchens Of Distinction-style wall of guitars and synth and impassioned vocals. As nice as the band's two self-released full-lengths are, suddenly The Hush Now is a band that needs to be seen -- and heard -- live.

As the evening was intended to celebrate the release of Constellations, The Hush Now's sophomore set released locally in mid-2009, the performance Saturday drew largely from that collection. The single "Hoping And Waiting" was given a lively reading, as was the title track and the under-rated album cuts "Smokescreens" and "Thorns" (a download of which we are offering below). Later in the set The Hush Now pulled out "Traditions," a highlight of the band's debut self-titled set, and if memory serves the band closed with a new track ridiculously titled "Stu-stu-studio." Kelly tells us that the band intends to post video blogs from South By Southwest, and we are hoping that a fair amount of live footage makes the cut. We don't yet have the band's Austin appearances in hand, but we hope to post them soon. The Hush Now plans at least two stops on the way to Austin to promote Constellations, and those live dates are posted below.

The Hush Now -- "Thorns" -- Constellations
[right click and save as]
[download the entire record here]

The Hush Now: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

03.12 -- Uncle Mike’s -- New York City, NY
03.14 -- The Khyber -- Philadelphia, PA
03.17 -- Black Ice (5:15PM) -- Austin, TX [SXSW]
03.18 -- TRF Outdoor Complex (12:00PM) -- Austin, TX [SXSW]
03.18 -- The Side Bar (4:00PM) -- Austin, TX [SXSW]
03.19 -- Pure (2:00PM) -- Austin, TX [SXSW]
03.20 -- Mugshots (5:00PM) -- Austin, TX [SXSW]
03.21 -- Cheapodiscs (In-store, 4:00PM) -- Austin, TX [SXSW]

Previous Hush Now Coverage:
Review: The Hush Now | Constellations [MP3]
YouTube Rodeo: The Hush Now's "Wishing You A Very Merry Christmas"
YouTube Rodeo: The Hush Now's "Constellations"
Today's Hotness: The Hush Now
Back To Now: The Hush Now Interview With Noel Kelly
In The Studio With... The Hush Now

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