House of Bread / Hypnic Jerk
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House Of Bread have worked for the better part of a year (or more) on a little slice of dream pop heaven called Hypnic Jerk. After much care, mixing, remixing and a Kickstarter campaign to help make this little audio nugget available in vinyl form, the fruits of their labor have finally ripened for the picking: Hypnic Jerk is here. House Of Bread have given us their best and most ambitious music in Hypnic Jerk’s eight songs. That’s a mouthful, especially when talking about Omar Afzaal and Bob K. Haddad who have been at it for years in bands like All Nite Skate and Castles as well as HOB. The last House Of Bread LP, 2010’s excellent Superhuman Tomb, established the band as a major force in the local music scene – a bedroom project turned dream pop juggernaut.
Hypnic Jerk opens with the Haddad-sung “Lampshade Dreams,” with Haddad’s voice reminiscent of a younger, less gray Lee Ranaldo. The song itself sounds like The Church collaborating with The Human League – just the right mix of synth haze and guitar noise. “There Are Rooms We’ve Never Shown You,” with Afzaal on lead vox, is a fine example of what House Of Bread does so well: start quiet and slowly build to an amazing refrain in the chorus, exploding into an amazing, cathartic emotional exclamation. This is truly good stuff. “Glass Mural” sounds like classic Robert Smith, complete with acoustic and synth touches. Afzaal’s voice reminds me of Jon Philpot of Bear In Heaven, and I can hear a lot of similarities in both HOB and Bear In Heaven. Both walk that line between dream pop and rock. atmospherics and emotional catharsis. It’s good company to keep, in my book. “Psychic Races” has great driving drums, a clean, delayed guitar line and a wobbling Peter Hook-inflected bass hiding underneath the surface. A centerpiece track, the eight-plus minutes long “Defeated Bones” shows up mid album and is a true highlight. A mix of early Cocteau Twins and Pornography-era Cure, the song floats along a purple cloud of regret and longing. It encompasses its own world where the listener gets lost and doesn’t mind if he’s ever found again.
On song after song House Of Bread lay out the plans for an all-out masterstroke, and once they reach album closer “The Grave Visitor Pt. I,” you realize they’ve done it. They have put out a front-to-back classic. House Of Bread take their influences and make them their own. They don’t pander to “what the people want.” Afzaal and Haddad make music that they want to hear, music they love. It just so happens the people love it too. Check out House Of Bread at www.houseofbreadmusic.com and on a local stage soon.