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Posted August 22, 2008 by Mike Mineo in Features
 
 

The Hush Sound

First of all, I’d like to apologize for the lack of updates this week. I just moved into college and it’s been hectic (and insanely enjoyable) since Saturday. This will not be the usual though, as this should be the only week where updates are condensed. Expect the usual when Monday rolls around and classes actually begin, as I still believe that my relocation to DC will provide this site with a boatload of opportunities. After all, I was previously located in the dull area of suburban New Jersey. Anyway, one of several new bands I have been listening to lately has been one that has been generating quite a bit of hype since their debut in 2005. Previously, my discovery of new music was limited to submissions and searches on my own time. The move has allowed me to connect with some great people, a handful of which have a very commendable taste in music. Not to bash my previous town, but the tastes there were limited to an aggravating extent. A great gal by the name of Melyssa introduced me to The Hush Sound, a group she deemed “obscure enough” to appear on the site. And though it is true that The Hush Sound have been gathering enough steam to become one of the breakthrough acts of the year lately, the music certainly warrants the attention.

The roots of The Hush Sound trace back as early as middle school for its founding members. Greta Salpeter was in 7th grade when she met Bob Morris, a high school student at the time. They found a personal connection in the field of music, with Morris being a skilled guitarist in several local rock bands in addition to Salpeter’s studies as a classical pianist. They eventually began writing songs and performing together, initiating The Hush Sound in late 2004 when they felt that their material was captivating enough to display. Bassist Chris Faller and drummer Darren Wilson, previously members of Until Sundown, joined shortly thereafter to complete the quartet. The recording of their debut album, So Sudden, commenced in March of 2005 and the album was released in October. Originally released without a label, it was re-released after The Hush Sound signed to Decaydance Records in 2006. The studio in which it was recorded in was later named after the album, illustrating how quickly success was arriving for the Chicago-based four-piece. The signing to Decaydance was spurred by the support of Panic at the Disco after Ryan Ross and Pete Wentz found “So Sudden” on Purevolume. This encouraged development for their second album, one that saw the group’s success arrive even more suddenly.

Like several other bands nowadays that have latched onto the youthful surge of emotive indie-rock, The Hush Sound caught the attention of Patrick Stump for the release of their second album, Like Vines. Joining the likes of Cobra Starship and Gym Class Heroes, Stump produced the sophomore effort in a display that was more demonstrative of cohesive and accessibly infectious indie-rock. The Hush Sound’s key-driven melodies were acclaimed by the likes of AbsolutePunk, selling over 60,000 copies in the process. The following months saw them tour with the likes of Rooney, Panic at the Disco, and the previously featured Murder by Death, all bands who offered an accessible formula within a style that remained unique to their intended audiences. Following the success of Like Vines, The Hush Sound returned to the studio for a third time with Goodbye Blues. Now with a substantial fan base under their belts, the album saw immediate success upon its release in March and debuted at #75 on the Billboard 200. The most dramatic stylistic transition found on the album is based around Salpeter’s vocal usage, as she serves as the lead vocalist on 9 of the 13 tracks. Consequently, the material appears more pop-oriented when compared to the angsty vocals of Morris. It serves as one of the several reasons why Goodbye Blues is the definitive stepping stone in the evolution of The Hush Sound’s sound.

While I do admit that the first two albums from The Hush Sound were not my cup of tea, Goodbye Blues has really impressed on several fronts. Apart from the commendable utilization of Salpeter’s vocals, the stylistic approach found on the album surpasses all previous attempts substantially. A track like “Honey” may have sounded out of place on an album such as Like Vines, but the outright cohesiveness of Goodbye Blues allows the seductively intertwined key and guitar-led melodies to flow freely without any qualms. The track serves as a perfect example of The Hush Sound’s approach, with Morris’ snarling guitar communicating audibly with Salpeter’s piano. The rhythm section is also impressive, especially for a band of The Hush Sound’s pop-driven nature. “You are my love,” Salpeter croons during the breezy chorus, an enjoyable contrast when compared to the budding verses. “Medicine Man” is a grittier and equally successful attempt, driven initially by the propulsion of Chris’ bass line. A flurry of keys then emerge over some top-notch production, courtesy of Kevin Augunas. About mid-way through, it transitions into a beautiful bridge in which Salpeter’s keys glide freely over consistently engineered production. They even prove with a ballad like “Hurricane” that high-powered anthems are not the only trick up their sleeve, as the emotions channeled by Salpeter are wholesome and pure over a delicate key-driven melody. For a band of their nature, The Hush Sound have made a remarkable transition with Goodbye Blues.

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The Hush Sound – Honey

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The Hush Sound – Hurricane

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The Hush Sound – Medicine Man

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Mike Mineo

 
I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound. I used to write for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine. Send your music to [email protected].