With a driving sound that's impossible to ignore, the rocking quartet Hugh Effo releases their vibrant self-titled debut album, 'Hugh Effo.' Consisting of Matthew Scotch, John Reid, Jimmy Nickerson, and Hank Smith, Hugh Effo takes the striking elements from 80s Tech-Punk and merges them with Modern Garage Rock for a meticulously sculpted sound.
Through their debut album 'Hugh Effo,' the four-piece takes listeners through scorching sounds of angst while adding brilliant range through playful and animated lyricism. Without hesitating, Hugh Effo jumps into their album with heat through the exciting intro track, "Jelly Massage." The track opens with incredibly tightly-wound electric guitar squealing and squeaking quickly-paced melodies. While the layered rhythm guitar delivers a gut-wrenching tone through stimulating melodies, the spotlight moves to the lead vocalist chanting and hollering with life. While singing lyrics of needing to escape, the surrounding fast-paced instrumentation keeps our adrenaline flowing with each dynamic tempo change and the lead's blazing vocals. One track in, and we're already locked into the invigorating album. We must note that Hugh Effo's transitions between songs are quite excellent, as the band wastes no time and leaps into the next track "In The City" with the stimulating outro to the song prior. Continuing on that high energy note, Hugh Effo jumps into this track and delivers a picturesque vibe within seconds. As the lead singer begins describing scenes of living deep in the city while submerged in its nightlife, Hugh Effo's entire instrumentation swells up and presents unexpected tempo changes within the band's uniquely rhythmic delivery. Ending the song off on a strong note, we're highly impressed with the album's split song introduction. Moving onto the third track "Layla the Lacerator," Hugh Effo slows it down and opens the track with groovy layered electric guitar melodies, once again offering impeccable rhythm. Once the entire instrumentals take place, we can't help but notice the band's Garage Rock influence through this somewhat grungey song. The lead singer brings a playful storyline where Ms. Layla has her magnificent hold over someone for years to come. The band's energy takes us back to prime 80s Tech-Punk through the gradual increase in power and force. So far, we love the range that Hugh Effo has offered through the project. Onto the next track "Happiness Machine," right off the bat, Hugh Effo jumps straight into their unique rhythmic delivery. The instrumental break downs take us through a stimulating experience while the lead vocals offer mind-lingering chants that we can't help but belt in our free time. Delivering lyrics of being stuck in our cycles and searching for a place to find happiness, we have to note Hugh Effo's vast creative talent by formulating such vibrant and ear-licking tunes while always coming through with a strong lyrical message. Especially with "Happiness Machine," we're left with our heads bopping and deep reflection.
A self-titled album with a self-titled song, the next track "Hugh Effo" takes the cake for the hottest and most vigorous piece on the project. With this minute and a half tune, Hugh Effo scorches through with the utmost power. One of the fastest tempo's we've heard to date; we must recognize the band's dedicated drummer for keeping the pace so tight and precise, without missing a single beat. If the album were a human, this song would be our fight or flight instincts. As the band's scorching instrumentals open the song, the vocalist powers through with mind-boggling lyricism and a gripping angsty delivery. Once again, Hugh Effo has perfected versatility and range within a project. Switching up their tone with the next track "Tame," we're able to see a different side of Hugh Effo as they take this mid-tempo Alternative-inspired track by storm. The melodic and Country-like electric/rhythm guitar offers sublime melodies, all while the vocalist begins singing a heartfelt story of love and loss. About halfway through the first chorus, Hugh Effo heightens the energy with blistering instrumentals that resemble our emotions when experiencing relationship obstacles. The electric guitar solo at the bridge grasps our hearts and throws us into a deep and passionate atmosphere that Hugh Effo finally serves within the project. When you think Hugh Effo, you must be thinking of incredibly dynamic rhythmic switch-ups. Especially with the next track "Sexless," Hugh Effo opens the song with their tight instrumentation and various rhythmic breakdowns. Within this piece, the vocalist's style resembles Arctic Monkey's Alex Turner, exuding a sensual charm and grasping anyone's attention in a matter of seconds. While the lead vocalist begins singing a sultry story of lust and needing someone's energy by their side, the surrounding instrumentals blast through and offer that stimulating sensation that the vocalist continues to sing of. While also exuding a primal 80s Tech-Punk approach, we can't help but feel this Surf-Rock sound shine through within many songs, especially "Baby Blaster." Hugh Effo opens the song with another quick-tempo instrumental and gripping rhythmic breakdowns. This track has to be the most sonically stimulating, as there is never a dull moment within the instrumentals. From the sweltering electric guitar, solid rhythm guitar, quick basslines, all the way to the ever-changing drum patterns. Not to mention the lead vocalist's energetic and forceful delivery, we're lost in the energy that Hugh Effo continues to push. Slowing down the album with the next track "Livin," Hugh Effo opens this piece with blissful and Grunge-inspired instrumentals. With guitar filters resembling a prime-time Nirvana, we love the gritty and soulful atmosphere that the band pushes with this piece. The vocalist takes the energy down a notch and begins to serenade us with his vocals' natural charm. While depicting scenarios that he's lived before, he locks us right into the track through a textured concept and the song's driving instrumentals. Spicing up the sound for the song's outro, we can't emphasize how perfect Hugh Effo's range and versatility is. Not only with this piece, but the entire album. Reaching the outro track "Washed," Hugh Effo sums up the nine tracks prior and serves an incredible vibe within this five-minute piece. Opening the upbeat song with distorted rhythm guitar and squealing electric guitar, the entire instrumentals serve this surreal texture that keeps listeners wanting more. The lead vocalist goes back and forth within his vocal delivery, from a more mellow approach, all the way to his enraged delivery at the hook. Another exquisite instrumental breakdown appears mid-track, slowing the song down to this groovy and soulful space. Serving all sorts of range within the song's instrumental outro, we couldn't have asked for a better way to end the project. Hugh Effo has shown immense talent through each individual track on their self-titled debut album 'Hugh Effo.' From the band's rhythmic breakdowns to the instrumental switch-ups, Hugh Effo has captured artistic versatility and in a highly authentic way. Listen to 'Hugh Effo' here.
Hello Hugh Effo and thank you for joining us at BuzzMusic. What an experience you've captured with your debut album, 'Hugh Effo.' How long would you say the project was in the making?
The album was written and worked out over about an eight-month period. Hank joined the band in May of last year and we began writing new material shortly after that, starting with Baby Blaster. As a band we’ve prioritized being as tight as possible, so we tended to write new material slowly as we polished each new song as best as we could. That emphasis was only heightened once we decided we wanted to record the album live.
When creating each song within your album 'Hugh Effo,' did your band divide the songwriting, or was your songwriting process the same for every piece?
Almost all of the songwriting was done the same: I would come up with the rhythm guitar parts and a general idea of the vocals would be and bring that to the rest of the band. We’d build around that and tweak the original idea as needed. We all have a lot of confidence in each other to recognize the feel of a song and suss out how to best emphasize it. Once we’ve got the general structure it just turns to trial and error experimentation. I’d only finalize the lyrics once the song was well established.
The only exception to that on this album was the title track. We wrote that together after a particularly rough show where we played right after this incredible band called Katatonic. They played an absolutely blistering set and when we went on after them almost everything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong. Afterward, we felt like we needed a straight-ahead driver of a song to pull out if we needed to regain any momentum in a set - I believe Hank worded it something like “a song we could play if we only had four strings between us.” We wrote that song start to finish during our next practice.
Within your self-titled album 'Hugh Effo,' your band blasts through with incredibly versatile and dynamic instrumentals. Could you break down what your creative process looked like when forming the many intricate and unique instrumentals?
Well, I think my influences come through strong on what I write for guitar. I tend to gravitate towards bands that bridge the gap between the discordant and the melodic like early Devo, Richard Hell, and the Voidoids, The Uranium Club, and Otoboke Beaver. Since we mostly write out from what I bring in, the skeletons of our songs are fairly reflective of that style.
A big part of the process is being open to experimentation - we’ll try anything once. I’d say out of all of us John has the most active hand there. With his background in music theory, he’s aware of a lot of different tools that we can use to build upon whatever vibe we’re going for in a particular song. He’s always thinking about how we can subvert standard harmonies or change up the rhythm in a way that helps heighten each moment of a song.
Also, we put a lot of stress on emphasizing drive. Jimmy is always focused on propelling any intricate play between guitars or other instruments forward with his bass lines. When Hank locks in with him we have to be dynamic to keep up with that momentum without becoming one-note.
Open communication in the collaborative effort ultimately plays the biggest role. We all ask each other questions about how what we’re doing plays off what someone else is doing. We pay attention to minor changes and give feedback. Any versatility you hear in our instrumentals stems from us all doing our best to play to each other’s strengths.
Regarding the vastly different vocal delivery and lyricism on your album 'Hugh Effo,' was there a particular concept that you wanted to shine through on the project? What inspired the concept?
I was mostly writing songs that were based on my own experiences to help process my feelings about them. I’m usually big on abstracting and removing myself as the narrative voice when I write, so this time around the goal was to adopt a more personal perspective.
As far as the vocal delivery goes, I just wanted the delivery to match the intensity and mood of the lyrics.
Within the ten songs that make up your album 'Hugh Effo,' how does the track-listing order emphasize the album's concept?
The tracklisting wasn’t so much organized around a concept as it was structured to emphasize the live aspect of the recordings. We wanted to record the songs in the same order we would have played them live, so we just went into the studio with essentially a setlist and played everything through. If it flowed well as a set, we figured it would flow well as an album.