The Word from Pluto

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Although Ho-Ag is a band nominally based in Boston, it is not surprising to note that two of its principals, singer/guitarist Matt Parish and singer/keyboardist Tyler Derryberry, are actually from Ohio, since the hard rock quintet evidences a distinct sonic heritage from the Ohio branch of the punk/new wave movement of the late '70s, as represented by such bands as Devo and Pere Ubu. (Among New York groups of the same era, the closest equivalent is Richard Hell & the Voidoids.) That means staccato rhythms and jagged shards of electric guitar, with harshly sung (if not shouted) vocals from either Parish or Derryberry, or both together. Derryberry, whose keyboard credit reads "electronics," also likes to fill in here and there with synthesized bloops and bleeps. Ho-Ag also bears the influence of thrash and speed metal outfits like Anthrax, but they don't tend to keep up the assault throughout a song. Rather, they like to halt the furious playing abruptly in order to leave space for a moment of silence or a bit of a lyric before pounding headlong again. This gives the music a surprising quality at the same time that it demonstrates that arrangements which sometimes seem nearly out of control are really carefully planned and rehearsed.

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