The psychedelic hellhounds of The New Highway Hymnal just dropped a new EP on the megalithic Vanya Records – and boy, does this thing bark. For the most part, Reverb Room shows NHH working with well-honed, familiar tools: Amy’s mesmerizing bass riffs are spunky, simplistic, and utterly groovy; Travis’ drumbeats get their power from sparseness and precisely placed gaps in sound, rather than from obnoxious, overbearing fills; Hadden’s surf-and-sand-saturated tones are as sharp as his trademark screeches, and his circular lyrics rope you into the band’s already inescapable revolutions.
But what makes Reverb Room such a great release – what’s really exciting for me – is to hear all the new, unfamiliar aspects of this band’s sound coming to fruition. Case in point: those blooming male/female vocal harmonies on the explosive chorus of “By The Pool” – I don’t think there have ever been vocal harmonies on a NHH album, and even if there were, they’ve never been this powerful, this interesting. “Isolation” shows the band becoming more patient, more comfortable with those rad plateaus of 60s vamps that make these jams surprisingly contemplative in the midst of energy. And the band’s relationship with noise is more experimental than ever: the stall-and-skip feedback of “By The Pool”, the sandstorm of squeals and echoes on “Isolation”, and, of course, the psychic acid-journey that is the “Reverb Room”, are all evidence of this band’s changing sound. This album is gut-crunching, free-wheeling, and perfectly unique – be sure to scope it out on the NHH bandcamp and on Vanya Records.