Athens' psych-damaged melody makers Ham1 are preparing to release their third full-length, The Underground Stream, due out this fall, with an LP slated for an early 2009 release on Infinity Cat Records.
The entire album is available as a free download here.
Several of the group's members (which include principle songwriter Jim Willingham, Christopher Sugiuchi, Eric Harris of Olivia Tremor Control, and Jacob Morris) spent the summer touring with Vic Chesnutt throughout Europe, later spent time on the road with Elf Power, and appeared as Liz Durrett's backing band on her latest release, Outside Our Gates.
Through it all the group found time to go into the studio with engineer Jason Nesmith of Casper & the Cookies to record The Underground Stream.
Each song on the album hangs in a balance of instrumental melancholy, lazy/nasally crooning and acid-drenched textures that take shape in a cerebral, psychedelic pastiche.
"Toothless Frontlines" and "Thylacine" portray an element of concrete songwriting that's bound by a greater sense of chemistry than any of the group's previous offerings, but it is not at the expense of their more experimental leanings. "Potato Gun" is a short and seemingly insignificant piano/grumbling-noise interlude, but is perhaps the most haunting 30 seconds on the record. The Underground Stream is filled with these obscure little enclaves, but not all of them exist outside the more refined songs.
"Will You Ever See Me Again" opens the recording with a soft burst of vocal harmonies that carry a warm, autumnal tone that expands throughout the record. "Mel Bay" is a grainy dose of distorted easy listening that offers a counterbalance to the introspective pace of "Begonia."
"I Wave Back" changes the tone with a Lou Reed swagger-and-strum that embodies an unmistakable reverence for straight-forward collegetown rock and roll.
It is precisely this balance comfortable atmospheric fugues, lingering melodies and a noisy take on traditional songwriting that give the record so much character. 5 Stars
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