Hi Red Center
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Hi Red Center


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The best kept secret in music


"Prefix Magazine review"

You'll want to scramble for comparisons when you hear Architectural Failures, Hi Red Center's debut. And you'll fail. Oh, sure, there's some Deerhoof in the way Hi Red Center's songs tense up with simple guitar lines then decompose into dissonant, sputtering electrical wires. Maybe a little Man Man with all the instrument shifting and general wildman wackiness. Even some vintage Gentle Giant when the members are rockin' the polyphonic vibraphone prog jams. And Cheer-Accident, too; that band's always good to name-check when you have no idea what the fuck is going on.

But none of the referencing really helps or matters, because the sum effect of Hi Red Center's game of band-mash is wholly unlike anything in indie rockdom. The record grooves. It rocks. It befuddles and intrigues and, occasionally, it's really quite beautiful. It's every band you care about playing at the same time, only better. And in just less than thirty minutes, it's over.

Hi Red Center should make more music, and more music should sound like Hi Red Center's.

by Etan Rosenbloom - Prefix Magazine (prefixmag.com)

"Dusted Magazine review"

Hi Red Center make fast, disjointed rock music that prominently features electronics, trombone and vibraphone, but they’re hardly a typical post-rock or noise-rock group. Sure, their songs dart and dive all over the place, divvying up rhythms in unusual ways and sometimes breaking into bursts of noise. Michael McCurdy’s approach to the drums is often similar to that of a toddler playing a game of whack-a-mole. U.S. Maple is a reasonably close reference point for Hi Red Center’s more wild moments.

And yet, Architectural Failures feels like it’s a million miles from U.S. Maple. Part of it is that Hi Red Center don’t shy away from sunny pop melodies – and not only do they not shy away from them, they don’t sound like they’re winking when they use them. Hi Red Center aren’t a pop band by any stretch of the imagination, but they don’t avoid major keys, either. And the melodicism of their music is enhanced by the vocals – “amateurish” isn’t the right word to describe them, but that’s getting there. The singing isn’t quite recorded right, and while it’d be unfair to say that Ben Lanz, Russell Greenberg and Lawrence Mesich are bad singers, they also have unpolished voices that recall lots of ‘90s lo-fi indie-pop bands that neither you nor I remember.

The result is that Architectural Failures feels less like an art-rock experiment and more like what it would sound like if Mates of State ditched the female singer, added some guitar noise, and played all their songs in odd time signatures. Actually, that would make Mates of State sound pretty different, but that’s kind of the point. Hi Red Center has found a nice balance of pop and noise, but they’re not particularly close to either pole. That’s to their credit.

By Charlie Wilmoth - Dusted Magazine (dustedmagazine.com)

"Splendid Magazine review"

Though the most obvious points of comparison for Hi Red Center's skewed pop are likely to be recent electronic explorers such as Quasi and Stereo Total, the group's schizophrenic collages and asymmetrical rhythms are more akin, spiritually speaking, to the freak-outs of late '60s weirdsters like The Holy Modal Rounders.
Opening frenetically with "Red/Green", in which the calmer passages only serve to emphasize the rest of the song's hecticness, the quartet keep their ADD-addled brains shifting focus and their hands tweaking the synths. They mostly sustain this pace, with the exception of "Hollow Buttons"' undulating post-rock and the mellow come-down jazz of "Bunnies Are Full of Magic" -- even the most hyperactive musical child has to sleep sometimes.

On most of the tracks, and most pointedly on "Captain Waltz" and "Eureka", the lyrics match the music's tuneful randomness with free-for-all pop culture references and lines that sound like the result of random dictionary flicking. Hi Red Center dodge listener expectations with ease: "Famous Hero" suddenly shifts from abstract rock noodling to '80s computer game music. "Eureka" even has a trombone swerving drunkenly in and out of the mix -- it's disorienting, but bizarrely danceable.

Occasionally it all gets a bit too much. "Evildoer" lives up to its name with migraine-inducing synths and manic drumrolls. There are so many layers of sound here that trying to focus on any of the instruments is a chore. It's a testament to the band's effectiveness here that the song's end comes as such profound a relief, even though it comes shortly after the two-minute mark.

Though they embrace a wide range of experimental influences, Hi Red Center aren't afraid of melodies and have an impressive stockpile of riffs. The overall impression is that they simply tire of them more easily than most bands, and are more than ready to move on to the next after a few seconds (witness "Oskar"'s myriad of hooks). Thankfully this mostly pays off, making Architectural Failures a sometimes challenging but ultimately rewarding listen.

-- Nick Norton - Splendid Magazine (splendidezine.com)

"Neufutur review"

Hi Red Center start off their “Architectural Failures” in a way that I’ve never heard a band start a disc. A high amount of electronic fuzz mixes with a lo-fi type of sound, only to have that amalgamation take on a much more noise-influenced sound. What results is something that is very catchy in terms of radio-friendliness but is simultaneously spastic and experimental. Hi Red Center has a slam dunk with this first track, “Red/Green”, and captures listeners in the space of less than three minutes. Different sounds await listeners each time that Hi Red Center starts a track on “Architectural Failures”.

For example, “Captain Waltz” has a very Sesame Street meets Tron type of feel, swaddled with a heavy coat of indie rock. This album takes a lot of attention to properly understand it, but the payoff that Hi Red Center have for their fans is nothing less than amazing. If enough individuals get a chance to listen to Hi Red Center, there is no doubt in my mind that this album will be put alongside the works of Pere Ubu and Faust as being the most influential to rock music. Tracks are typically short, with the entirety of this ten-track disc gliding in at under thirty minutes. However short the disc may be, the replay value and the density of the compositions makes it a fact that this album can be pun tens of times more than anything else on the market.

Even when Hi Red Center ends a track with a grating noise that will have individuals scrambling for the remote (as is the case during “Captain Waltz”, individuals will have to keep listening as the beauty of pure chaos (“Evildoer”) will reign them in for a few more tracks. Overall, Hi Red Center create a very eclectic sound to their “Architectural Failures” that does not have a specific referent in regards to the genre or time period that the band finds themselves most comfortable. The band has came out of nowhere, and it may just be under their capable hands that the face of rock is changed from the bland visage it currently enjoys to something much more delightful for all to look at. One just needs to listen to the unlikely dance style of “Magic Teeth” to see that Hi Red Center operate on a completely different plane than other acts out now, and that it will be this outlook that dominates in the near future.

Top Tracks: Magic Teeth, Eureka

Rating: 7.6/10

[JMcQ] - Neufutur (neufutur.com)


Hi Red Center - S/T EP, 2003 (self-released)
Hi Red Center - Architectural Failures, 2005 (Pangaea Recordings)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Formed in late August 2003, Hi Red Center are an endearingly odd and distorted version of a familiar instrumental quartet. Consider a drummer who swings effortlessly between lurching off-time rhythms and anthemic beats, a drummer/vibraphone/electronic/synth player who adds everything from burbling noise to contagious melodies, a bassist who lays down the frenzied punch of post-punk with the melodic dexterity of krautrock, and a guitarist/
trombonist that creates a rich textural fuzz that makes it rock.

They layer melody upon melody, and top it all off with vocal harmonies reminiscent of an asymmetrical barbershop quartet. Their music is a dizzying mix of rhythmic smashes, noisy harmonies, and cultural innuendo that add up to graceful, sculpture-like songs.Hi Red Center makes music for folks who like to sing, for people who like to dance, and for everyone who likes their songs thoroughly mixed and mashed!