Saturday, June 14, 2008

Staples: Hum - Downward Is Heavenward

Hum - Green To Me

Staples is a feature about, you guessed it, staples in my music diet. Albums that no matter how (im)perfect they are, or how old or new they are, I always come back to them because they're that awesome.

Hum had that song back in the mid '90s, you probably remember it. It was called "Stars." "She thinks she missed the train to Mars, she's out back counting stars." I'm sure you'd know it if you heard it. Anyway, that was Hum's breakout song. The one that got them lots of radio play but also, sadly, made them one-hit-wonders. After "Stars" was out long enough to stop being played on the radio, people forgot about them.

They were being overshadowed by other indie bands like The Toadies (Rubberneck, another staple!) or more mainstream rock like The Smashing Pumpkins (all of their albums are staples). Four years went by, and nobody cared anymore. But no one knew they spent that time crafting what would easily be the best forgotten gem from the '90s.

Downward Is Heaven is perfect in every sense of the word. It's spacey and epic, with lots of feedback, lots of hooks, and a singer with a vocal range as bad as mine. It's got everything I love. They mix shoegaze with the best parts of The Pumpkins.

Hum supposedly wouldn't finish the record until every member loved every part of every song. That's some serious fuckin' dedication. Man, they weren't kidding. There isn't a single note on Heavenward that is out of place or doesn't belong. They weren't afraid of regularly letting a song stretch out past the 6 minute mark. 7 out of 10 songs are longer than 5 minutes, but they're not just being extravagant. Everything fits.

If you've gone all this time only vaguely aware of Hum as that band from the '90s that did that song, now's the time to give them another listen. Or if you somehow missed their first single, then you need to pick this up. Downward Is Heavenward has all of the makings of a masterpiece and it shouldn't be forgotten in a bargain bin in some used record store.


Anonymous said...

YES. This album is incredible.

Anonymous said...

HUM...i still remember when they were on the Howard Stern show, and just when that fuzzy dipshit was going to do some air-guitar, he just stopped and stood in wonder at the sheer magnificence in the studio.

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he just stopped and stood in wonder at the sheer magnificence

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