This is the first album from the band “over the hill”. They are in Austin, Texas, that city of slackers and hundred and hundreds of other bands playing in living rooms, bars, and bathrooms. This album was recorded during the late summer and fall of 2006 inside the studio that sits behind Rob Halverson’s house, close to highway 183. It came together slowly during those months, a day here and a day there, with a big break of time in the middle for Rob, who was recording and producing it, to have a baby girl. Morgan Coy sings and plays guitar. Thor Harris, who drums with the bands Shearwater and Smog, plays vibraphone and drums. Kirk Laktas, from the band My Education, plays organ, Rhodes, and piano on a few tracks. Rob Halverson plays some bass and synth. Steve Burnel plays some more bass. And Travis Cooper plays Rhodes and piano on a few songs as well.
This is a weird little gem of pre-post-apocalyptic americana music that is both familiar and strange.
The songs on this album travel through different landscapes and emotions, musically and lyrically. From the synth orgy crescendo in “drug study” to the calm culty pychedealia of “dream together”, these songs construct their own world and usher the listener inside of it. The slightly raspy sweet voice of Coy sings about visions; a talking desert pig, Marylyn Chambers’ first non-pornographic role in David Cronenberg’s movie Rabid mixed with burning rivers, and an airline attendant’s one night stand with a man she has just met at a seafood buffet, to name a few. The themes might seem radically diverse when taken out of context, but there’s something about the poetry of Coy’s lyrics and the music of the band supporting him that makes these stories fit comfortably next to one another on the album. The production is intricately crafted, but not overly done, so that upon multiple listens, new colors and textures continue to reveal themselves in the music.
There are glimpses of the band’s influences to be grasped here and there throughout the album: a glimmer of the Flaming Lips on the track “Rabid”, some of the complacent rage of Dinosaur Jr. on “Drug study”, a little bit of Animal Collective’s weirdness on “Possession”, and some of Brian Eno’s “music for airports” on “stewardess”. But regardless of these musical references, Over the Hill never steers away from it’s own voice. This band has put together an album that is sharp, sweet, and alien, and somehow necessary in these zero years. It is an impressive debut, and one that you should pick up.
And as a bonus, you also get the illustrated novella, Days uv Bloat, written by Morgan Coy with drawings by Colleen Matzke. Days uv Bloat is the first person narrative of a young prostitute’s experience in a small southern city as a plague rises up in the land and infects mankind.