Ho-Ag. It's a band name that gives you no warning as to what the music is going to sound like on the inside. A good omen, to be sure. My first thought was that is was related to MOAB (the infamous mother of all bombs), but as it turns out, it's actually an obscure astronomy reference that I'm simply not smart enough to explain.
On their new record, World Destroying Zig-Zags, Boston's Ho-Ag deliver a mother of a record by capturing the intensity and quizzical nature of good science fiction riddle, whilst maintaining the day-glo poster ambience of the perma-stoned teenager's bedroom where such theories might be contemplated.
Tonight, Ho-Ag will join be joined by Hallelujah the Hills and Dear Leader in a truly epic bill at Cambridge's Oberon to celebrate the release of their creation. It's a rare show for the members of Ho-Ag, who certainly must be accounting for their scarcity of shows by spending massive amounts of time writing, arranging, rehearsing and recording their fascinatingly complex, Zappa-for-the-no-wave-set creations.
I first became aware of their musical talents through their connection to the majestic Animal Hospital Ensemble, and while Ho-Ag might not have 30 guitarists, their sound is no less detailed and envisioned.
World Destroying Zig-Zags' songs skitter like ball-bearings in a hot teflon pan. Songs like "See You At The Brush Pass" start out as well-engineered, crunchy riff-fests, but reveal themselves to be more-than-usually intricate guitar/keys/drums creations that hunch along like creepy little square-shaped ghoulies. "I Spy the Spider Rider" introduces a drop of California punk into our hot pan, sizzling and splatting into proggy, dissonant modal gyrations which make perfect sense to (chief among them) Ho-ag themselves. Spurts of metallic noise-rock pop like grease explosions in the screeching "Vulgar Crowd." Something for everyone--as long as your 'everyone' includes friends with exotic tastes in synth-heavy, spasmodic riff-rock.
Keyboardist/vocalist Tyler Derryberry sums up the experience of being able to play in a band that works in a conglomeration of styles so rarely suited to keyboards as this:
"Ho-Ag at this point is pretty much a band built for the kind of synth parts I like to play; dense, melodramatic, anxiety-inducing, confusing but still melodic. I'm definitely more drawn to a string-section-in-a-horror-movie-soundtrack kind of playing than a Dr. John solo or something. I love synthesizer-heavy bands like Hot Chip, Holy Ghost, etc, BUT I'm personally not that creatively interested in adding to that pile of party music. Maybe I'm just not that optimistic of a person. I'd prefer to play heavier, greasier stuff. There's not a lot of new music out there that keys in on that frequency of anxious dread and then gleefully pounds on it like we do. That's more my speed."
Thursday, February 21
Oberon (Harvard Sq)
with Hallelujah the Hills and Dear Leader
The author is solely responsible for the content.
About the authorJonathan Donaldson is a Boston-based musician, writer, and second-generation music junkie. An Ohio native who moved to Boston in 1998, Jonathan's musical loves include R&B, psych, punk, bubblegum, country, electronic, More »
Recent blog posts
Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JR_Donaldson | Facebook
Sound Effects blog: Music news and reviews
Band In Boston Podcast
Ryan's Smashing Life