Big Hush – “Spirit / Wholes” (Robotic Empire, 2017)

Big Hush hail from Washington DC – a city rich in musical history, with many bands owning a fervent DIY ethic and a tendency to break the mould. Big Hush are also signed to Robotic Empire Records – a label renowned for its experimental metal acts (Daughters, Isis, Torche and many, many others have once called R.E. home) – yet, despite the fact that there’s nary a Boss Metal Zone pedal in sight, they feel perfect for the label.

“Spirit / Wholes” comprises two previously-released cassette-and-download EPs, plus one new single – the album’s stupendous opener “Soft Eyes”. A simple lead-guitar melody obliterated with whammy bar shows flashes of early My Bloody Valentine – the reckless, noisy spirit of Isn’t Anything – combined with a DIY indie-rock vibe that reminds me of some of the great music coming out of Philadelphia in recent years (Dogs On Acid, Thin Lips, Mannequin Pussy). It’s a totally killer opener and one that you’ll find stuck in your head for days. The combination of dreamy male and female vocals gives everything a hazy vibe, allowing countermelodies to float around in mesmerising fashion.

The following four songs comprise the “Who’s Smoking Your Spirit?” EP which continues further down the path of melodic shoegazing with extreme whammy bar abuse and hazy vocals. Occasionally on this portion of the album, they wear their influences a little brazenly on their sleeve. “Cold Shoulder”, for example, is a bit too much like “MBV”-era MBV for comfort – but if you’re gonna be influenced by an album then “MBV” is not a bad one to be influenced by. There are also moments that show flashes of Deerhunter and The Breeders, especially on the super catchy “Walk On”.

The final four songs comprise the “Wholes” EP and it’s at this point that the album truly elevates into ***Essential*** territory. Lo-fi, hazy, melodic. It sounds like it’s been recorded in a tiny basement full of stoned admirers nodding along sleepily. The production is spare and the shoegaze elements take a bit of a backseat, allowing for a sombre Americana/alt-country vibe to shine through the fog. The vocal melodies on “Wholes” and “Wrong House” are gorgeous and sit wonderfully alongside the twangy, reverb-soaked guitar melodies.

The difference between the two EPs is clear – the production value of each differs pretty greatly but the songwriting is strong throughout. It will be interesting to see what Big Hush come up with when they focus on a long-player that is all written and recorded within the same session.

You can pick this up from Robotic Empire here

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