Sweet Sounds From Above

I kept hearing about this band called Hymns through the grapevine, and then the press releases started clogging up the fax machine over here at the office. Every couple of days, I would get something via e-mail, fax, or messenger pigeon about this great tour and the great shows Hymns are playing with the Shys (whom I love) and Mezzanine Owls (whose name I love. Or maybe I just love the word "mezzanine"). Fine. Let's go have a look. They were easy enough to find online, and I spent the next hour or so dreaming about clear blue skies and horses running through fields.

Hymns is sleepy country folk masquerading itself as all-too-widely claimed indie rock. The quartet keeps the melodies soft and simple, and vocalist Brian Harding's faintly nasal tone smacks slightly of Elvis Costello (but in a good way). The band are from New York, but with a sound like this, I really expected them to be from Austin or Nashville—hell, even Portland. I know it's a massive state with squillions of people, but whenever I hear a band are from New York, I expect something . . . New Yorkier (what that implies, I don't know. Dirtier? Ridiculously expensive? Maybe something off-Broadway!).

Listening to Hymns is like breathing some fresh air after being stuck in the car with Aunt Irene, who's been smoking cigarettes with the windows rolled up. It's crisp and clean and sweet. Lucky for you, you've got a few chances to catch them as they roll through California. This week, Hymns are playing Pull Up Your Pants! at the Prospector on Tuesday, then at Detroit Bar on the 14th.

Hymns at the Prospector, 2400 E. Seventh St., Long Beach, (562) 438-3839; www.prospectorlongbeach.com. Tues., 10 p.m. $3. 21+; also at Detroit Bar, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-0600; detroitbar.com. Thurs., June 14, 9 p.m. $6. 21+.


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