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"Brother/Sister Review"


Hymns is a Sunday morning church name, and the group's Brother/Sister CD is illustrated like an old Baptist hymnal. But the music Hymns creates is not nearly so liturgical. Instead, this New York City-based outfit is a rock band infused with touches of Americana. Brian Harding has one of those nasal, Doug Sahm-y voices that give many of his vocals a country-rock vibe. The pedal steel guitar that comes and goes here and there only adds to such an effect. It must be the group's big city base that keeps it from becoming too down home. "Power in the Street" for instance, sounds a lot like its city neighbors, The Strokes. Other side roads include "First Time" which is a la Byrds jangly, as well as the closer "Towns" which incorporates piano, horns, and touches that are more than a little psychedelic. It can be tough going figuring out what Hymns are trying to say through the stanzas of its songs. The track "Brother/Sister" may well be about familial relationships, whereas a line in "Starboat" about teenage symphonies might allude to The Beach Boys and the music business in general. These songs won't ever replace the old numbers the choir sings, nor will they compete with the rock & roll worship music so popular these days. But if you're one that stays away from steeples and such on Sunday mornings, it offers a quiet and gentle way to face the Sabbath.

-Dan MacIntosh - Amplifier Magazine


'their dreamy west coast folk was drifting me off to a place where vw vans cruise the horizon, the weather isn't perpetually set on "march," and gram parsons is jesus. i dare you to listen.' - 'sup magazine

'brian harding is pretty darn phenomenal: if it's a fair universe, people will be compared to him in the next few years.' - stuck magazine

'they have a gift for making a retro sound still sound modern.' - crashin' in

'this nyc band has a sound that gives off a sonic youth, dinosaur jr., supergrass, and even tom petty feel only with a more buzz of moody and melodic chops going on.' - toxic flyer

'the california sunset twang doesn't sound forced and rests nicely in these well-crafted tunes.' - village voice

'imagine, it's not that hard, a band mixing the sonic dna of pavement and wilco (among others) and touting a front man who from second to second sounds like the leaders of both these bands (when he's not making you fall in love with his own high ragged voice).' - sixeyes

'it makes me feel good like the beach boys medicine.' - paquito

'hymns master the art of simple delivery, which is a refreshing change.' - pulse weekly

'with influences from pavement and guided by voices pushing through the tunes, you cant go wrong. have a listen, wont you?' - each note secure

'...not unlike tom petty in his more subdued moments. or ray davies early days.' - the aquarian magazine

'The band's debut album, Brother/Sister, features solid guitar rock that's a mixture of Pete Yorn and Wilco with a dash of the Beatles — a playful, bouncing bass line repeatedly pops up in songs, making you wonder if the band didn't find a way to transport an Abbey Road-era Paul McCartney out of '69 London to '05 Celeste, Texas, where they recorded the album. The addition of horns and keyboard into the mix give their songs added depth and beauty, creating swirling aural landscapes that demand repeated listens not only to take everything in, but to appreciate the textured soundscapes — especially on the album's final track, "Town." While certain aspects of their sound may be lost when the songs are played live, the quartet attacks their work with ferocious energy reminiscent of the Replacements, making for a fun performance. If there is one excuse to miss the biggest local music show so far this year, Hymns is it.' - nuvo

- many.

"Allmusic Review (Brother/Sister)"

Some CDs smack you right over the head, strutting their stuff straight out of the speakers, Hymns' Brother/Sister isn't one of them, its many charms are much more subtle than that. The quartet's debut is not a grandiose album, but it is a glorious one, the type one returns to time and again. The first thing one notices is the luminescent quality of the music -- all the songs positively glow, the more rocking numbers in bright colors, the more laid-back in pastel shades. Then there's the energy, not adrenaline drenched, but with a joie de vivre and a breeziness that wafts up and infuses the entire set. Next, the fabulous double-guitar work looms into view. Brian Harding and Jason Roberts have been playing together since grade school and it shows, their riffs and leads flawlessly intertwining, gracefully switching roles until they make a nonsense of the terms "rhythm" and "lead" guitar. As supple as they are subtle, the pair blur genre lines along the way, but in the end, their North Carolina roots inevitably show, all those years picking away on the porch shining through. Behind them, the equally subtle rhythm section gently powers the songs. To call Hymns' music Southern rock would be a misnomer, not with numbers like the pumping title track, the dreamy "C'Mon, C'Mon," the alt-pop flavored "First Time," the punky "Power in the Street," or the dynamics laced almost alt-rocker "Stop Talking" in their repertoire. "Magazine" may be country-fried, but its in a Rolling Stones sort of way, and besides, what Southern rocker ever wrote a song as light-hearted and infectious as "Friends of Mine"? There are at least six songs vying for singles status within, perhaps simultaneously, as they could all be aimed at different markets. And that's the beauty of this set, its many shadings creating an aural rainbow, magnificent in its incandescence. - Allmusic.com (Jo-Ann Greene)

"Daytrotter SXSW Sessions"

four live songs from a session during sxsw 2008!

http://daytrotter.com/article/1399/hymns - daytrotter.com

"Rolling Stone 'Appaloosa' Review"

3 stars

Buzzed-over North Carolina-via-New York quartet Hymns are a folk-rock band that likes to experiment with a mix of textures: Druggy AM-radio vibes on "Call Me Honey," a harpsichord groove on "Ten Bells," horns on the singalong title track. What doesn't change: the band's strong, rootsy tune sense. - Rolling Stone

"Hymns: Brother/Sister"

I googled the word hymns and found this:
A hymn is a song specifically written as a song of praise, adoration or prayer, typically addressed to a god.
And, as in the case of most testosterone fuelled bands, the 'god' here is more succinctly 'goddess'. A band of guys singing and playing songs about women, that's Brooklyn based Hymns in a nutshell. And I'm really liking this band... A LOT. Imagine, it's not that hard, a band mixing the sonic DNA of Pavement and Wilco (among others) and touting a front man who from second to second sounds like the leaders of both these bands (when he's not making you fall in love with his own high ragged voice) and you'll be imagining reality, so, uhh... stop imagining and begin listening. But first, add to the mix, now and again, the crunchy backwoods rock of the Kings of Leons debut, Youth & Young Manhood. And on top of it all? Some very well crafted songwriting and playing from Jason Roberts (guitar, wurlitzer), Matt Cole (drums), Jeremy Kay (bass), and of course, guitarist Brian Harding's ear catching vocals. There's even some horn playing which doesn't sound out of place at all. And all of this is on their debut album, Brother/Sister, which will hit stores this June.

The album's title track, "Brother/Sister", screams to radio programmers, PLAY ME! With it's dual machine gun rat-a-tat-tat guitar line (which I love), slashing and chiming over the double time beat. "C'mon C'mon" comes at you like Being There era Wilco with Brian Harding's vocal, in it's upper and lower register, giving a taste of Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. "Power in the Street" with it's Strokes influences, especially in the chorus; and "Friends of Mine", shows the influence of Pavement's Malkmus, especially in the chorus's fantastic hook and then, again, the band caps the track with a simple, yet perfect horn line. And don't forget "It's A Shame", the most beautiful ballad on the record, opening with a Neil Young and Crazy Horse guitar sound and offering Harding's best vocal performance. These are all instant favourites. This is great stuff. It's always a thrill to find a new band that echoes their heroes, but has the talent and skill to make the music all their own. And isn't that what all great bands do?

+ friends of mine
+ brother/sister

Brother/Sister Tracklist...
1. Magazines
2. Brother/Sister
3. Friends Of Mine
4. C'mon, C'mon
5. Power In The Street
6. Scenery Glow
7. First Time
8. Stop Talking
9. It's A Shame
10. Starboat
11. Town

An interesting little tidbit I learned is that Jason Roberts, Hymns guitarist and Wurlitzer player, is also Ben Kweller's guitarist, and Kweller's drummer, John Kent (Kent was also in Radish with Kweller and is frontman for Pony League), produced Brother/Sister and is also president of the band's label, Blackland Records.

Hymns will release their debut, Brother/Sister, on Blackland this June. But you can get it now on vinyl, here's what it says on the label site:
"Brother/Sister" is the debut LP from New York City based Hymns. The record is pressed on 125 gram vinyl for Hi-Fi enthusiasts. LP buyers also receive a code which provides access to a free, one-time download of the entire album in mp3 format. Vinyl limited to 1000 copies, so be the first on your block to own one. Power in the Street! - sixeyes.blogspot.com alan williamson

"John Norris (MTV) Show Review"

Hymns of a Different Sort, in a Rock n Roll Chapel

Pianos, New York
Tuesday 22 January 2008

A rollicking blast of countrified rock filled Pianos on Tuesday night, as Hymns continued its month-long residency at the Lower East Side club. The foursome, which made its mark with its infectious debut album “Brother/Sister” is playing the current dates to herald the release of its second, “Travel in Herds”, due in March. And according to the band, they have stepped it up. “I like the first album, but this one, we’re really proud of”, said Jason Roberts, guitarist, honky tonk keyboardist and Hymns' perpetual ball of energy.

Roberts and the band's front man Brian Harding have known each other since they were little kids, been playing music together almost as long and it shows – the two have a tight, effortless chemistry on stage, and along with drummer Tony Kent and their newest member, bassist Matt Shaw, they play a show that offers Southern fried good times, start to finish.

I say Southern fried because Hymns hail from North Carolina, and at times there is a definite nasal twang to Harding’s voice not unlike that of another skinny-jeaned singer, Kings of Leon’s Caleb Followill; in fact Hymns really ought to share a bill with the Kings one day. These boys definitely could hold their own. They have already played with Ben Kweller, Sam Roberts Band and the Lemonheads.

But a while back the southerners relocated to Brooklyn, so in their own way now there is as much New York as there is Carolina in Hymns’ look and sound. Maybe some Los Angeles too. Matter of fact, they led off the Pianos show with the lead track from the new album, “NYC Nervous Breakdown”, continued with a new song called “L.A.” and finished the set with the rocking, rousing “St. Sebastian” which references among other things, Laurel Canyon. ‘Yeah we tried to make this record very much about cities,” said Roberts. “It’s not all that way but a lot of it is.”

Other songs included their new MySpace track “I Can’t Be What You Want” (a tune that like many of the tracks on the new record features horns, though they were not in attendance Tuesday night) and from their first album, favorites “Friends of Mine” and “Power in the Street”. Whatever their muse, Hymns are a breath of fresh air. Can’t believe it took me this long to see them, but I am looking forward to doing it again soon, hopefully at the upcoming South by Southwest.
If ever there was a band made for SXSW, Hymns is it. They played there last year, will be there again in ’08, and they call it ‘the best week of the year’. I would be hard pressed to disagree.

Until then they’ve got a few more shows in their adopted home of NYC and elsewhere on the east coast. Check their MySpace (hymnsband) and get thee to your local place of rock n roll worship, for some Hymns.

- MTV Blog

"Travel In Herds Review/Interview"

Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Album Review

Hymns- Travel In Herds
Blackland Records
Rating: 8 out of 10

Approximately 20 years ago, a friend popped into the CD player, Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. Within a few seconds of hearing the opening notes of “Tangled Up in Blue,” I knew that I’d be in for a treat and listened to the whole record start to finish while eagerly awaiting each song. It was around the same time, that I had bought Lou Reed’s New York record, in which the liner notes stated the album, was “meant to be listened to in one 58 minute (14 songs) sitting as though it were a book or a movie.”

Ever since that day, I’ve been an album guy as opposed to a singles guy. I knew that bands could easily produce a catchy single, but the more important test, in my opinion, was whether that same band could make a great LP…start-to-finish.

In this day of the iPod, where listeners often rely on the shuffle function to play random tracks from their favorite artists, I wondered to myself, “Are bands still going to take the album seriously?” Although I already knew the answer, that answer was reaffirmed resoundingly after I got a chance to listen to Hymns soon-to-be-released record Travel in Herds.

Travel in Herds starts off with a bang with “NYC Nervous Breakdown.” The looping bass line chugs along with Rickenbacker-like country picking done by the Kinks.

“I Can’t Be What U Want,” takes the band into previously uncharted territory with fantastic horns accompanied by banjo that takes the listener on roads traveled by The Band and perhaps Dr. John.

I think it’s refreshing that while many indie bands have gone 80’s retro, almost using Moog synthesizers as a crutch, Hymns have enough guts to go against the grain and revisit more organic sounds...using horns, piano, banjo, and other old-timey instrumentation.

“St. Sebastian” rocks like Exile-era Stones while tackling Travel in Herds reoccurring theme of wide-eyed big city love and ambivalence. Hymns are from Brooklyn by way of North Carolina and while they’ve clearly enjoyed their travels and time spent in big cities, you never get the sense that this band has forgotten their roots.

“Time Has Told Me” sounds like another great North Carolina band, Whiskeytown, meeting the Stones halfway.

The only minor slip-up on this record might be the fade-out ending to “LA, or Babette Sange.” I hate fade outs….a sloppy, ramshackle finish would have sounded more authentic.

“On the Run” seduces the listener with Hammond organ coloring, builds up momentum, and eventually launches to into an epic soulful blue-eye soul song reminiscent of Van Morrison of the early 70’s. The perfect ending to a fantastic record.

The pace and sequencing of this album is nearly perfect, which is difficult when you make a record that touches so many bases. It’s not easy for a band to be this ambitious and still pull it off. Wilco did it with Being There and the Hymns more than succeed with Travel in Herds. Hymns cover expansive ground while keeping the listener comfortable in the familiar realms of Americana.

Sure, you hear some subtle and not-so-subtle nods to The Band, late 60’s Stones, Tom Petty (Blame it On the Mountains), and perhaps Gram Parsons (Off My Mind)…but Travel in Herds is a modern music-lovers album and is a record that any of those artists would have been proud to have made.

Despite this record being full of great singles, this record should be listened to start to finish in one sitting….you’ll be happy you did.

Travel in Herds has already solidified a place on my “Best Records of 2008.”

*Travel in Herds will be released on March 11th on Blackland Records.




Watch the video for "Train Song" from Travel in Herds

Posted by Mark S at Wednesday, February 20, 2008 0 comments
Labels: Music
Interview with Hymns' Jason Roberts

Photo courtesy of Hymns Mypace page

Question: First off…I really love the new record. I thought your previous record, Brother/Sister was one of the best records of 2006, but with Travel in Herds, the band seems to have taken huge strides. What are your thoughts on Travel in Herds?

Answer: I think that Travel in Herds is the album that we've always wanted to make. We’re so proud of Brother/Sister, but this album IS US! It’s a lot more lush, but still remains true to our direct sound that we're going for. Straightforward songs with horns, organ, banjo, etc. I also think the album was created by a much more mature hymns. We were just getting our start on the last album and figuring out the songs and the studio and how to work together. I think the new album shows that we've grown up a lot from touring and playing together so much.

Question: Tell me about the recording sessions for Travel in Herds and how that went down?

Answer: Well, we spent two weeks in our label studio, Vault Studios, doing pre-production on the album with co-producer John Kent. This is the studio in Texas where we recorded Brother/Sister. John and I co-produced the new album together, so we really went through all the songs and just made sure everything was perfect before we went into the other studio to record. We set out the parts and stuff, but tried to not overwork so that the songs would stay fresh. Then we went to Palmyra Studios in Waxahachie, TX for four weeks to record and mix the record. The studio is on 65 acres of land and it's a perfect place to make a record like this. We recorded and mixed to tape. We never left the studio. Slept in tents outside.

Question: According to the credits, most of the songs are Harding/Roberts. Is there a primary songwriter and someone that focuses on the music? Tell me how you guys work together.

Answer: Besides track 10, Brian wrote all of the basic parts of the songs himself. Sometimes I would be there with him helping, but most of the time he would bring in a song that was already somewhat strong. Then we would go through the parts and try to really make them solid. He also wrote about 80 percent of the lyrics, but I helped with some of them and I wrote almost all of the lyrics on “Off My Mind” and all of the music on that one as well. It’s credited like that because we work together as a team with all of the stuff. I couldn't write the main song without Brian and Brian couldn't come up with the parts and arrangements without me…you know?

Question: A lot of music is coming out of Brooklyn these days. In fact, I counted over 100 bands from Brooklyn with scheduled shows at South by Southwest. You are not unlike a lot of bands over the past five years, having moved from North Carolina to Brooklyn to set up base. Describe the positive and negative aspects of having the band based out of Brooklyn.

Answer: Well, we love Brooklyn and it's a great place to be if you're a band, but it IS really hard because of all the competition. EVERYONE is in a band. Sometimes it can be really frustrating because your friends or some other smaller band starts doing well and you don't understand why you're not. On the other hand, it's way harder to get recognized in a small town because there are less industry people/clubs/etc.

Question: I had a conversation with a respected local DJ, who lived in New York for a number of years during the 90’s. She told me that, unlike Minneapolis, there really wasn’t a local music scene in New York, where like-minded bands played shows with each other, attended each other’s shows, and helped each other out. She said that New York was too big for a local scene to be happening. Taking her at her word, has New York changed? Is there a local scene there? If so, who are some New York bands that are amongst your circle of friends?

Answer: I totally agree with her, but we have been trying to get some kind of collective together since we've been here. We’d much rather play a show with our friends then some band we've never heard of just because they have some buzz, you know? We actually just did a residency at Pianos (http://www.pianosnyc.com/) in the Lower East Side and it was up to us to choose the bands for each week and it was so fun to play all of those shows with only friends! Some bands we love: Young Lords, Blonde Acid Cult, Soft Explosions, Kieran McGee, Indyns.

Question: What are your plans for South By Southwest? What do you hope to accomplish there? Are there any bands that you’re hoping to see while there?

Answer: We have three shows so far at SXSW including or label party (Blackland Records). Our CD comes out the day before SXSW, so we're actually doing an in-store and a CD release party in Dallas that day since that is where our label is based. Our main goal for this year is to try and get a booking agent. We love touring so much and it's getting to hard to set that stuff up on our own! We love SXSW so much and its' so fun to go to Austin for that week and just hang with friends and see bands you haven't seen in a long time.

Question: I have an aquaintance in a New York-based band, The Soft Explosions. I discovered them via myspace in 2005, loved what I heard, and went to one of their shows on a visit to New York that same year. I loved and respected their music and they had listed Hymns as one of their friends. Consequently, I checked out your band based on their recommendation. What are your thoughts on the use of the Internet and sites like myspace and how that fits into your (Hymns) world? Do you have any thoughts on how sites like that have affected the music industry as a whole?

Answer: Ha. I just mentioned them! We’re HUGE myspace advocates. We’re addicted to our own personal sites and I can't believe how much having our Hymns myspace has helped us through the past years. Almost everything we get (shows, interviews, etc) is all through myspace. It’s really amazing that people can easily go to your myspace and hear you, see you, read about you, and see how well you're doing as a band. The only negative I think is that a lot of industry people will skip seeing your show or actually listening to your album because they just check you out on myspace. It’s good for them to come to the show and see how you REALLY are, you know?

Question: The first time I saw you, you opened up for the Lemonheads. Tell me the story about getting on that bill?

Answer: Well...I used to play in Ben Kweller's band with John Kent, who owns our label, and we got to know Evan Dando because he was friends with Ben. After we finished touring with Ben, Evan had John play drums with the Lemonheads some as a fill-in. So, when the Lemonheads started touring, John didn't feel bad about asking them if we could jump on that bill. Evan was into our songs and was cool with it!

Question: I read that Evan Dando joined you on stage in Boise. Tell me about that.

Answer: Ha. Yeah, we had played a lot of shows at that point, but he had never watched us, so that night he sat right in the front and watched our whole show. Then for the second to last song, we played a Neil young cover- “Don't Cry No Tears”-and he jumped up on the front of the stage and grabbed the mic and sang with us! It was definitely a very cool moment for us!

Question: Jason, you mentioned that you played with Ben Kweller’s band. How did that come about?

Answer: I was in New York working at a recording studio called the Magic Shop and also at a club they owned called the Living Room. Ben had just lost his guitarist and was auditioning people and he had come to the Living Room to check out a guitarist who was recommended to him. I was on stage setting up stuff because I was the sound guy and Ben thought that I was the guitarist! So, he asked me to audition for him and I did a couple of days later and got the job!

Question: Ben Kweller got involved in the music industry at a very young age? Even though he’s still fairly young, he has a lot of experience…What did you learn about music and the music industry from him?

Answer: I really learned so much from him. He controls everything that happens with his music and his tour, etc and I saw how smart that is to make sure that everything goes the way that YOU as an artist want. It’s better to do those things yourself and have your vision come out the way you want instead of someone else who doesn't know what's exactly in your head. He worked really hard everyday to make sure everything worked the way he wanted it to. He was also really good at doing interviews and getting people excited about his music and shows. I was pretty naïve when I joined his band and I think I left his band a better musician and music businessman.

Question: In my opinion, the year Bob Dylan went electric, playing with The Hawks (The Band), is the most important period in rock music. I noticed that your publishing company is called “Dylan Goes Electric”…Would you concur with my statement? Why or why not?

Answer: That's Brian’s publishing company. We are huge Dylan fans and even huger fans of The Band (The Hawks). It definitely was an important time in music because Dylan really bridged so many things together by going electric. It said a lot to the music world when he did that and stuck by it even though there was a lot of criticism towards it.

Question: On the new record, I hear some sounds that remind me of The Band, just as I heard some sounds of Neil Young and Crazy Horse on Brother/Sister. Is it safe to say, that the band finds inspiration in those artists?

Answer: It is VERY safe to say that. Our goal with all of this stuff is to have songs that sound fresh and new, but always fall back on older sounds.

There are a lot of bands doing the retro thing, but it's hard to achieve in this time. I think we did the best we could on this new record! We’ll always love The Band and the Stones and Neil, etc and will probably always try to imitate them as best we can without copying them. It ends up being our OWN sound.

Question: According to the credits on Travel in Herds, Brian’s dad, Dr. John Harding, played on the record. Was he a big influence on Brian getting involved in music? Was his family musically inclined? If so, what kinds of records did he hear around the house?

Answer: Brian’s dad is an incredible trumpet player. He’s been playing his whole life and even has a Ph.D. in brass! He teaches at UNCC (University of North Carolina-Charlotte) and toured with so many bands throughout his life (James Brown, Bee Gees, etc.)
I think Brian got a lot of his talent from his dad and he grew up listening to ALL kinds of rock and jazz music. His dad has a HUGE HUGE record collection, so everything was available to Brian throughout his childhood. Brian’s dad has always played with us at shows in North Carolina and it was such an honor to have him on the record and I think it was cool for Brian to have his dad there in Texas for two days!

Question: I love the sounds of the horns on this record, they remind me of Van Morrison of the early 70’s or perhaps The Band. Prior to going into the studio, did the band have a clear idea of what those horns would sound like, or did you just let the horn section have at it?

Answer: Well, we pretty much knew what we wanted before we went into the studio. We had worked out most of the stuff during pre- production and recorded ourselves playing the parts on guitar so that John could hear them before he got there and write out some rough charts. We also knew what sounds we were going for (The Band/Elton John for ‘I Can't Be What U Want', the Stones for 'St. Sebastian', etc.)

The only song that we didn't expect to have horns on until the players got to Texas was 'Travel in Herds'. We had an empty gap there and just figured we'd fill it with a cool sax solo.

Question: Are there any plans on moving the band up to Poukeepsee and hunkering down in a house, like Big Pink?

Answer: That would be INCREDIBLE and Brian has brought it up, but we do love our apartment in Brooklyn! Ha.

Question: When I spoke with Brian in June (in Minneapolis), we talked about a number of things, including the song, “It’s a Shame.” I love that song, but it still bothers me to this day that I can’t figure out what specific Neil Young song that reminds me of. He had mentioned that before “It’s a Shame” had an official title, it was often called, “The Neil Young Song”. On Travel in Herds, there’s a song called “Blame it on the Mountains.” Was that song, at any point, called The Tom Petty Song?

Answer: Ha. It wasn't called the Tom Petty song, BUT it is very Tom Petty inspired. One day we were in rehearsals and Brian and I decided to stay behind afterwards to write a 'hit song'. Ha. We promised we wouldn't leave until we had something that we thought was really catchy. I had seen Tom Petty the night before at Madison Square Garden, so I was VERY excited about him at that point. Hopefully it doesn't sound too much like a rip off, but I think we definitely achieved what we were going for!

Question: When I talked to you guys last June, one thing that struck me is that your guys seemed focused and had some artistic goals you wanted to accomplish. Where do you hope Hymns will be in the next couple of years?

Answer: I think we're accomplishing some of our goals and I think this album was a big step for us. It sounds almost EXACTLY how we had pictured it sounding and we're very proud of it. I just hope we can keep making music that we're proud of and that sounds like US. Our only goal as of now is to get on tour so that people can hear these songs. Hopefully something will happen with this record and we can be headlining shows all over the country and Europe one-day soon.
Posted by Mark S at Wednesday, February 20, 2008 - brokenguitarstrings.blogspot.com

"Spin Magazine Travel In Herds Review"

3 out of 5 Stars!

'If Pavement and Neil Young Took A Roadtrip to Burritoville'

These New Yorkers recorded their sophomore LP on a 60-acre ranch in Texas, and the album's airy country rock feels appropriately spacious and uninhibited. 'Travel In Herds' features a honky tonk instrumentation-pedal steel, piano-but much like early Wilco, nods to the Rolling Stones as much as Waylon Jennings. The skronking 'I Can't Be What U Want' is built around an addictive banjo line, lifted up by trumpet and sax. All that unadulterated plucking, though, inevitably leads you dreaming of flat, unending pastures. - Spin Magazine

"Artist Of The Day"

Artist of the Day (2.29.08)
Brooklyn rockers embrace southern roots.
By ANTHONY M. D'AMATO 02.29.08 12:31 PM

What's the Deal? Hymns fortify their Southern moonshine with a more roughshod, electric sound, distilling a party album for the roots-rock set. Giving a nod to the Band, they pepper the record with harmonies and punchy horns, most effectively on "I Can't Be What U Want," which bounces and grooves along over a hypnotic banjo riff. Much of the album is rooted firmly with a sense of place, from "NYC Nervous Breakdown" to "L.A., or Babette Sange," a saloon jam that debunks the siren song of Los Angeles: "Come on through / You've got nothing to lose / except some dignity and pride," sings frontman Brian Harding.

Who? In 2005, Jason Roberts left his gig as Ben Kweller's guitarist to join Hymns, a band fronted by Harding, his childhood friend from North Carolina. They released their debut, Brother/Sister, in the fall of 2006, and proceeded to hit the road with the the Lemonheads, Sam Roberts Band, and Ben Kweller, pairing up with Texas natives Tony Kent (drums) and Matt Shaw (bass) along the way. In two weeks, they'll release their second LP, Travel in Herds.

Fun Fact: Hymns recorded Travel in Herds on a 65-acre ranch in Texas and slept in teepees at night during the sessions.

- Spin.com


full length vinyl and cd

*Travel In Herds
full length cd




HYMNS bucked tradition on 'Appaloosa,' trading in the isolated flatlands of Texas where they recorded their first two albums for the urban bustle of Los Angeles. Surrounding themselves with a host of friends including Grammy-nominated fiddler Tracy Bonham, Ned Brower and Taylor Locke of Rooney, and acclaimed producer Dan Horne, the band managed to turn out a six-track EP that stands as their most diverse and adventurous work to date. 'Appaloosa' keeps one foot planted firmly in HYMNS' southern roots and another square in the heart of the thriving Brooklyn indie scene they now call home.

From the very first, HYMNS have always embraced musical contradictions like these. Guitarist Jason Roberts and singer/songwriter Brian Harding met growing up in southern North Carolina, cementing their friendship as teenagers over a shared love for the Americana roots of The Band and the distinctly not-southern rock of Nirvana. The two parted ways after college when Roberts joined Ben Kweller's touring band and Harding relocated to New York City, but it was only a matter of time before the undeniable musical chemistry that the two shared brought them back together.

"Brian and I are complete opposites," explains Roberts, "but we understand each other better than anyone. I think I'm the only person who can really tell what he's looking for in a song, so we learned to rely on each other's strengths."

The duo reunited in Brooklyn in 2005, fleshing out their sound with a drummer and bass player before traveling to rural Texas to record their debut album, 'Brother/Sister,' for Blackland Records. An exhilarating blend of country twang and indie drive, 'Brother/Sister' was a critical hit drawing comparisons to Tom Petty and Gram Parsons. HYMNS suddenly found themselves touring nationally with The Lemonheads, Ben Kweller, and Canadian star Sam Roberts, while back home in New York they began sharing bills with artists like Beck, Hot Hot Heat, and The Redwalls.

Expanding on their rootsy sensibilities by adding horns, banjo, and pump organ to the mix, HYMNS followed up 'Brother/Sister' with 2008's ‘Travel in Herds’ and a series of stellar performances at SXSW. “If Pavement and Neil Young took a road trip to Burritoville” raved SPIN magazine, which named the band an "Artist to Watch." Similar accolades rained down from The New Yorker, The Village Voice, Daytrotter, WNYC's Soundcheck, and MTV's John Norris, who praised the band's "tight, effortless chemistry onstage." They hit the road for U.S. tours again in 2008-9, pairing up at various points with Locksley, Daniel Johnston, Butch Walker and many more.

The release of 'Appaloosa' marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for HYMNS and finds them once more on the road, touring with newest member Joey McClellan on bass.


For more information on HYMNS please contact Sam Shah [sam@generalpublicmgmt.com] at General Public Management.