Head For The Hills is not your typical bluegrass band. In their third record, Blue Ruin, the Colorado based quartet squeezes the hillbilly out of country music, infusing their sound with the bitter aftertaste of indie rock and a jazzy sense of restlessness. Granted, the record was a little less Rob Mathes/Abbey Road Studios and a little more Falzarano, and the band was able to weave in elements of baroque pop without scourging for The Beach Boys records.
Songs like “Never Does” sport teasing hooks from the string sections, and witty lyrics that deal with desk jobs and dirty dinner table politics. The cushy bass bottom complements their murder ballad aesthetic with phrases like “(he’s) looking at her, thinking she’s too good to be a bad spouse” and “trying to save her from a hell that only heaven knows”, giving it an almost theatrical aura.
Though “Breakfast Noir” is not as overheated as the title suggests, the plethora of tubby layers do make you wonder if you were better off ordering a sunny side egg. There’s no doubt, however, beneath the unnecessary amount of cackle and spatter, lies undeniably great musicianship.
The jailbird gang vocals serve as an instant pick up in “Dependency Co” and go to show that the band is definitely not trying to shoehorn themselves in a particular direction. The lyrics inject a splash of wit with lines like, “Trying to find the one and only we can fight to the death/ till our skin grows thicker than the ice we tread”.
Head for the Hills brings something new to the table with their comic book inspiration and acerbic tone. With great musicianship, solid lyrics and an inexplicable sexual appeal, their name begins to seem ironic because after listening to Blue Ruin, the last thing you want to do is head for the hills.
Key Tracks: Never Does, Breakfast Noir, Dependency Co