According to Ned, The idea was to work backwards and create music with the vision of a film, and then create the film for the music. I had a vision of an underground, cultish secret society in New York that performed rituals and ceremonies cloaked in the candle-lit shadows of a dingy Brooklyn warehouse.” With this macabre imagery in mind, the two set to work on a bevy of haunting, original pieces. When the filmmakers backed out, however, Ned and Jamie were left with a finished score and no visuals to accompany it. Instead of scrapping the material, they formed the Wicked Hemlocks, and put the songs out as an album aptly titled “Quill of the Mad” under alias label Stick in Your Spokes Records. To support the album, Ned and Jamie tried to put together a live show with a number of other people, but when that became too complex, they returned to writing and released the “Lonely Places” demo.
“As soon as the demo happened we had a clear vision of where the next album was going, and we knew for sure we could play it live, so we kept driving,” Ned says. In February 2008 the duo met up with Brian McCorkle, who was playing as the one-man project What Color Is Your Machine Gun. Ned and Jamie found themselves on the same musical plane as Brian, and they decided to head up to a farmhouse in Brattleboro, VT to record. They set up in a barn, accompanied by some “psychedelic experiences,” and began to lay down the tracks that would become their self-titled album. Several songs on the album were recorded live, such as “Wandering Eyes,” which flows organically; other songs are in keeping with the musical palette of the last release—organ, synth, and bits of noise.
The new material also features harmonies and melodies reminiscent of 60’s pysch-pop. After recording the album, the band found a van and began playing shows in July of 2008. Michael Hanf (who played with Lindsay Holler and Absalan in South Carolina) joined in October 2008 to solidify the line-up and complete the band’s kaleidoscopic mix of colorful instrumental texture, ethereal vocals, and infectious melody. Melding 60’s psych-pop and even a dash of the Silver Apples’ experimental drum-meets-synth barrage, NYC’s Wicked Hemlocks have found a nice niche between the psych-rock of the past and modern freak-folk and indie pop. While drugs are recommended, they’re certainly not a pre-requisite for a listen to Quill of the Mad; amidst all the psychedelic freak-outs and experimental noise touches, there is also a melodic backbone of soothing vocal harmonies and even some funk and folk to keep the sober folk at bay. For example, the tribalistic percussion and animal samples that creep through the opening of “Western Front” are complimented by a chorus of “oohs” that hold the song together, and the entertaining cover of the Pointer Sisters’ “Number Count” pits a fuzzed-out bass-line against a spastic update of the original numerical melody (“one, two, three, FOUR, five!”).
We also find songs like “Jakowah,” a triumphant folk-rock gem laced with sugary vocals, and the inspiring choral breakdown of “Braided.” This is not to say the album doesn’t have its share of more challenging songs; the aural nuances of “Telepathy De Nature” will make listeners feel like they’re in some Dali-esque world where solid objects melt into liquid sonic textures, and the last minute of “Beneath Their Feet” is certainly not for everyone – if there were a theme song to being buried alive, it might sound like this. For a debut effort, Wicked Hemlocks have tapped into the mad scientist that hides inside them, mixing a maniacal concoction of tripped-out sonic elements and broken pop melodies into a glowing vial of potent freak-out juice that your ex-hippy dad could never have wrapped his mind around back in the day. But maybe you can…-Bill Dvorak Good For: Breaking through to the other side, counting your hairs, showing your pops what the new drugs are like, bus drivers, Topanga Days. Bad For: Wicca meetings, ballet enthusiasts, Disneyland rides, breakdancing on the Promenade. NPR.org, November 16, 2007 - Wicked Hemlocks experiment wildly with a number of sounds, from funk to chaotic, noisy rock. On their latest CD — the appropriately-titled Quill of the Mad — the group uses heavy effects to bend and warp songs into '60s-flavored psychedelia, similar Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd or the Silver Apples.
The opening track, "To Be Extremist" has an driving drum beat with some touches of jangling tambourine. "Telepathy De Nature" is an abrasive track with some added electronics, while "Braided" sounds calmer with a surprising minute-long choral arrangement. Quill of the Mad includes a brilliant and completely surprising cover of the Pointer Sisters' "Number Count." Fans of Sesame Street will likely remember the bass-driven funk song as the soundtrack to a cartoon pinball machine on counting. The album was released on the Brooklyn independent label Stick in Your Spokes Records. "Interesting sounds that stimulate madmen in the streets" - Jared the prophet "Such diverse genres uncommonly melted into one band, 70's funk/soul driven bass tone to BLUR type mellow tunes, layered with experimental/psychedelia.
At times they remind me of a blend of Can & Amon Düül. Gives pleasure to listen..." -Karim Kozmik Distro "From the blossoming Brooklyn music scene: Wicked Hemlocks. Jampacked with psychadelic influences, funk, Brit-pop, and heavy doses of experimentation; their future release Quill of the Mad is sure to acquire some buzz from bloggers and critics, alike. I have listened to it several times throughout and the production quality alone makes it deserving of a "headphone listen"." -Brandon whenyougetupintheafternoon.blogspot.com "meanwhile across town under a bridge the ceremony started to take place, no one had any idea what was happening right beneath their feet" see, i'm a real sucker for music like this, it's like an outerspace cartoon, really bright and twisted and stuff, alot of vocal harmonies, running on that francis plagne or ariel pink kick, i mean, i'm not trying to say anything about who they like or listen too, but just that it's got that same nostalgic shift about it that plagne or pink does have.
it's recorded with some dirt in it which i like and one of the songs has a great heavy deep voice over it and the voice is saying that thing i quote up there below the picture. Bling Manor Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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