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Op-Ed

Hella, Hold Your Horse Is

As Don Caballero devolved into a mess of egotistical assholes and sloppy drunks (see Fred Weaver’s excellent tour diary in Chunklet #16) before splitting in 2000, the noise-rock scene was left with a conundrum: Follow the neutered approach Don Cab employed on their final disc, American Don, or make one last, detuned stab at music as a diarrheic caterwaul? Hella, the best instrumental noise-rock band not named Don Caballero, opt for clatter over texture, shitting out a maelstrom of eye-popping riffs and epileptic rim shots on their debut album, Hold Your Horse Is.

Hella, solely comprised of guitarist Spencer Seim and drummer Zach Hill, does not sound like a duo. Each measure stutters and stammers with piercing tones and manic drum rolls. Their best song, the poorly punned ‘Been A Long Time Cousin,’ veers from rapidly ascending guitar tones to straight metal. While Hella certainly tread familiar ground on Hold Your Horse Is, the record is plenty ambitious—the handclaps in ‘Republic of Rough & Ready,’ the shrieking dissonance played surf-style in ‘Brown Metal’ and the unbelievably concise drumming in the epic ‘City Folk Sitting, Sitting’ are among the incredible disc’s numerous surprises. Barely a year old, Hella has already churned out a new entry in the noise-rock canon, a patchwork of clamor and melody that never disappoints.



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Yancey Strickler is a writer living in New York City. He is currently Senior Director, Editorial & Features at eMusic. More by Yancey Strickler