Hushdrops: The Static [Album Review]

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The Static
Pravda Records [2021]

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Chicago-band, Hushdrops, are considered a supergroup around those parts, the trio perhaps better known for the folk they support in other settings. Guitarist and vocalist John San Jaun has played with Material Issue, Josh Caterer, The Webb Bros. and more, bassist Jim Shapiro was the original drummer with Veruca Salt, where he played with his sister Nina Gordon, while drummer Joe Camarillo had played with The Waco Bros., NRBQ and others. The trio released their debut, Volume One in ’03, and followed it up in ’14 with a double album, Tomorrow. Sadly, after 5+ year break, they regrouped to create this newest collection of songs, only for Camarillo to die shortly after the recording was completed in January of this year. While the future of the Hushdrops is uncertain, San Jaun and Shapiro, who describe the drummer as “the soul of the band,” have worked to release these 14 tracks on the Chicago label, Pravda Records, as a tribute to their friend’s memory.

Stepping away from playing at the direction of others, this trio mixes an appreciation for jam-centric power trio rock with Replacements/Westerberg grunge-pop songcraft, and everything in between. The two singles – “One of the Guys” and “The Sweetest Plum,” tie the heavier guitar riffs to the songs melodic core, while “The Moment” brings on the acoustic guitar with Nora O’Connor on backing vocal. While on the appropriately-titled instrumental “The Lummox,” and the major jam sections of tracks like “Monday,” the ending of songs like “Secrets,” and the lengthy jam in the album closing, “I Had a Room” tear it up big time. The title track is another rollicking rocker, with a big jam at its conclusion, but throws a curveball midway through with a solo that sounds like a mellow vibe or marimba solo that’s uncredited, but no less delightful.

“Psychic Space” leans toward psychedelic, well as psychedelic as a grunge-pop song can go. “Elevator” opens with a nice drum solo, before settling in with a pop sound, again with a keyboard softening the rhythm some, no doubt from pianist Carolyn Englemann, who shows up on “The Sweetest Plum,” as well. On the whole, The Static is a well-rounded rock album with a warm, emotional core.

Key Tracks: “The Sweetest Plum” / “Planets” / “The Lummox”

Artists With Similar Fire: The Replacements/ Soul Asylum / Crazy Horse

Hushdrops Website
Hushdrops Facebook
Pravda Records

Brian Q. Newcomb

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