Our love for the New Highway Hymnal runs deep, perhaps deeper than any other current rock band in the New England area. A few years ago when Vanyaland was just a boring-old blogspot page designed to kill wasted hours during my time at the Boston Herald, the Vanya name suddenly took on the distinction as an independent record label.
In 2010, Vanya Records launched with the “Moniker” 7-inch from dance-pop band Bearstronaut, and the following year saw us issue two releases from the New Highway Hymnal: the gritty, backwater-rock “Blackened Hands” 7-inch, and the Whispers LP [VAN004], which showed a dark, menacing side to the noisy psych band.
We were, and still are, insanely proud of both those releases (as well as the records we did with Bearstronaut, Andre Obin, and Confessions).
After the closing of the Boston Phoenix (whose salary I used to bankroll the label instead of doing adult things like have children or being in a functional relationship), Vanyaland was properly re-launched as a music website in May of last year, and the “Vanya” focus shifted towards a media company and away from an independent record label. But like Bearstronaut and Andre Obin, Hymnal still rages on, and their new, beach-wasted song “Television” is a reaffirmation of their place among the best rock bands in Massachusetts.
“Television” reflects a more poppy, surf-rock sound than the scraped-knee, strobe-light rock of the Whispers LP, but still shows off their penchant for a rowdy sea of reverb and the musical clouds that hover darkly and suffocate from above. It’s the sound of getting sunburned at midnight, on a beach that’s a claustrophobic cave of sand and sound where the cooling sensation of the ocean is forever unreachable.
Check out our Vanyaland preview of all 15 participating bands here, as well as our feature on Fuzzstival curator Jason Trefts of Illegally Blind productions, and fire up the New Highway Hymnal’s “Television” below.