Hickory’s Must Listen Experimental Alt Electro Rock Trip “Batten Down the Hatches”
Hickory, the alternative electronic rock duo hailing from San Francisco, California, takes you by a storm with their latest album, “Batten Down the Hatches.” Clocking in at 39 minutes, this insane and vibrant collection of songs showcases the band’s highly experimental nature, pushing the boundaries of conventional song structures and delighting listeners with their unconventional blend of sounds. Crafted under the expert guidance of mixed and produced by Daniel Kluger, along with mastering by Jessica Thompson, “Batten Down the Hatches” and the album artwork by Will Fryer, sets the mood for the auditory journey that lies ahead.
The opening track, “Adrift,” immediately grabs your attention with its intriguing blend of synths, effects, strings, and subtle piano. As the song progresses, it seamlessly transitions from a contemplative mood to an uplifting and positive energy, keeping listeners engaged and eagerly anticipating what comes next. “Sliding Back (feat. Adam Larson)” introduces an exciting combination of piano and synths, creating a polyrhythmic riff that is both fresh and mesmerizing. The addition of Adam Larson’s tenor sax adds a dynamic layer to the chorus, resulting in a glorious sonic experience by Hickory.
“All the Time” takes a departure from the experimental sounds and embraces an indie rock vibe. With a discordant synth guitar solo and surgically executed drumming, this track stands out as a highlight on the album, showcasing the duo’s willingness to explore different tones and song structures. “Minuet For Tomorrow” acts as a seamless transition into “A Man (feat. Sianna Plavin),” a laid-back track that captivates with its magical blend of chord changes and synth wizardry. Sianna Plavin’s vocals add an enchanting element to the song, creating a memorable refrain that lingers long after the track ends.
“Upped My Dose Of Seroquel” brings an alternative hip-hop sound to the table, featuring a robotic-generated spoken word section that leads into a blend of electronic rock goodness. The experimentation continues with “On the Low (feat. Whitney White),” where Whitney White’s phenomenal vocal performance shines over the mesmerizing chords. “Monday Before Dinner” treats listeners to pleasing electronic synth sections in the first half, followed by a string section and eclectic vocal harmonies in the second half. The intricate chord voicings and harmonic content make this track a standout.
As the album reaches its conclusion, “Empty Plane” provides a divine instrumental experience, with the organ synth looping to great effect. “Alone” takes a spoken word approach, showcasing sustained chord voicings that leave a lasting impression. The album ends on a high note with “So It Goes,” combining plain piano, horn synths, and captivating effects, concluding the musical journey in a perfect and unique way. After all the synth noise madness, we get some plain piano blended with horn synths with crazy effects. The track ends with some off tune trumpets and a tape sound. Perfect!
The chord voicings and harmonic content here are to die for. Unconventional song structures, frequently changing keys, chord progressions that are musical but also slightly dissonant even jazzy at times. You get healthy doses of piano and noise rock and even alternative hip-hop. Hickory’s latest release is a true gem in the world of dark pop and alternative electronic rock. Standout tracks are “Adrift”, “All the Time”, and “On the Low”. “Batten Down the Hatches” has the band’s fearless sound and experimentation, coupled with their ability to create catchy and memorable melodies, make this album a must-listen. Without a doubt one of the best albums I’ve heard in recent times with crazy sound and experimentation.