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Posted on March 8th, 2011 (2:04 pm) by Joseph Weathered

Hailing from the Oakland/Berkley area, Hetch Hetchy is a trio made up of Michael Poulton, Peter Schulte, and Max Segnitz that play ambient rock. The songs are damaged, experimental and epic. At times the vocalist sounds a tad like Chris Martin of Coldplay--which, if you can believe it, fits in well with Hetch Hetchy’s music.

Much of Glen Worple (and the ambient rock genre itself) tends to lose focus while building up the epic-ness of the work. These bands try and try to make every song sound like your life's best or worst moment played out in slow motion and as a score. Some of these bands hit it straight on, others miss. The true talent lies in knowing when to wrap it up. Hetch Hetchy is smart because they throw just enough layers into the music, bring it down at times and never really go on too long. Songs like "Tunnels”, a dream-like atmospheric mix, works because it kicks off with oddly pleasant organs that blur into guitars and crescendo into pure sonic joy. The song clocks in at a perfect 2 minutes, 49 seconds--because even a 20 second extension would kill the track’s effect.

Hetch Hetchy cite influences such as Low, Neutral Milk Hotel and Radiohead, taking enough from each style without actually committing music thievery. You will notice that songs like "Tincture" do borrow heavily from "Kid A" (even the singer's voice ends up doing a but of a lower octave Thom Yorke), but even "Tincture" retains original creative spirit, sounding almost like a waltz.

"Bony Legs" is the stand-out track, coming off as a schizophrenic lullaby. Veering in and out from quiet, delicate beauty and tense guitar work that spells forward doom, the song sounds like something you would play at you're wedding day, if your wedding day also doubled as a hired attempt on your life.

The real issue here is that Hetch Hetchy are one of many, many bands in this genre. Their music is original enough and interesting enough to stand out, but the first few seconds of each song may have a "heard it before" effect on a new listener. I whole-heartedly recommend the band to anyone who is even remotely into acts like Radiohead or Helium and Spiritualized. For everyone else, think of melancholic music played at slow tempos, that still manages to not become annoying.

Track List:

1. The Sea It Ate Us Up
2. Tunnels
3. Bony-legs
4. Tincture
5. Harmattan
6. R. Orinoco
7. A Ghostly Green Light
8. Midnight Down
9. Daguerreotype
10. Gates
11. "Glen Worple"

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