The Hi-Frequencies

The Hi-Frequencies

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More than a year in the making, the Hi-Frequencies' self-titled debut is easily worth the wait: a perfect, immaculate-sounding distillation of the group's sound, sensibility, and strength, not as a surf revival act, but as a working pop band with somewhat of a stubborn surf fetish. Yeah, it's a bit odd considering they're from the hills outside Pittsburgh, but it works, and works well. Recorded by singer/songwriter/guitarist Bill McAdams in his living room on a vintage half-inch four-track and quarter-inch two-track, the album feels and sounds shimmeringly and like it could have been cut in 1963 -- not in a garage, but in Western Studios with Brian Wilson at the controls -- all except for the vocals, which when they aren't totally left out, are mostly just there, their lack of elaboration standing in sharp, even disarming contrast to the robust music. But the music is strong enough that it's a small complaint. The rollicking "Clairton Beat" tumbles wonderfully into the opening "Mr. Tambourine Man" jangle of "To Do." "Jerome Green" is a shaking Bo Diddley-beat revival, played with style and pride. The album's best track, the beautiful "Stranded," is deceptively simple and effortless, with Kate Daly's bass working up a throbbing jungle beat, McAdams weaving an intoxicated reverb frenzy, rhythm guitar player Jason Lizzi hitting his chords always at exactly the right moment, and drummer Bill Scully alternating between rolls and four-on-the-floor playing, the whole thing timeless, effortless, and perfect. Bonus points for the meticulous All Summer Long send-up cover art and the deliciously quirky liner notes. A fully realized and convincing debut.

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