hadley hill

hadley hill

 Santa Rosa, California, USA

Wurlitzer, keyboards, guitar, bass, drums and vocals mark the ambitious debut of this San Francisco indie rock quartet. Modern sounds combine with touches of New Wave synths to create a mood in every song. Sounds like: Cure, Japan, Radiohead, Appleseed Cast, Modest Mouse


Born in a window warehouse across from the legendary Mesa Boogie factory in Petaluma, Ca., Hadley Hill will blow you away like a quadruple rectifier. But it's not their blasting distortion that will floor you, it's the depth and groove of their music.

With songs ranging from 2:20 to 7:50 and dynamics to match, Hadley Hill explores the expanse of human emotion on its debut album, "Fall." Based in the beautiful tones of a Wurlitzer electric piano, songs build with perfectly placed guitars, catchy synthesizers, bootyshaking bass, relentless pounding drums and powerful vocals. Think Radiohead meets Wilco at a Cure concert in Seattle.

The ambitious indie rock quartet includes former members of Urine Love, Caveat and Allez-Cuisine!, some abandoning their former genres for new, more reflective music. "I was in a punk band for a long time," says singer Bryan Haven. "But I've always wanted to do something like this. I've been writing songs that need more than power chords to tell their stories. There's still that raw rock coming through, but it's balanced with a softer side that feels like it can just explode at any moment."

That primed charge goes off on "That's the Spirit," a song about lingering memories of a relationship. The destructive drums and scary synthesizers blast their way out of a sparkling, Wurlitzer-led chorus into an ominous, "This house has become haunted/your ghost is still alive."

The first track on "Fall," an ironically titled rump shaking groove called "Bitter, Alone," brings the signature piano sound and bass together with a bitter electric guitar. The chorus erupts into a wall of musical force, with lyrics "You people live like you've got time to live/And base your decisions on fact, not feeling/So when you fall, it feels further than it really is/A decision that broken can't be fixed."

"We want to create a very dynamic mix of sounds," says bassist Seth Friesen. "We try to highlight the intimacy of those quiet moments not as moments between the noise, but sometimes as the more intense moments in the songs." He shows those moments on tracks like "It's not you, it's me... Ok, it's you," with his delicate guitar work and bass lines that leave space for the song to breathe. It builds into a powerful chorus, leaving an aural imprint like a TV screen burned with the image of Gears of War left on pause too long.

Nick Grizzle destroys the drums on some songs, but makes them sing sweetly on others. The quick, sporadic beat of "Final Nail in the Coffin" gives way to an immense, loud and crushing climax, but then lays back for the Pink Floyd-esque keyboard solo. "It's different for me," says Grizzle, "To not play as loud and hard as I can 100 percent of the time. I'm not used to laying back, but really listening to these songs, I thought, 'I don't need to be the loudest thing here right now,' in some spots."

The triple threat Justin "keys" Jeffers plays the aforementioned Wurlitzer as well as a full sized and mini lead synthesizers. His playing on "Final Nail" is a subtle nod to prog bands of the 70s, while his mossy, fog-covered pads are an homage to New Wave groups of the 80s. "I really like that synthesizer sound," says Jeffers. "I try to bring that in wherever it fits." He adds with a chuckle, "And we usually end up making it fit, somehow."

With some indie rock leaning toward softer songs with folksy instrumentation, it's good to know there's some that can still rock. Hadley Hill brings intensity to the forefront while still honoring the dance-inspired songs of the 1980s and 90s, when the members grew up and acquired their fondness for music. There aren't many bands that compare to this original sounding group, it's an experience you'll have to try for yourself.


Fall (LP) - self produced, 2010