Top 10 Favorite Hum Songs

Their 3rd record hit during the spring of 1995, but I thought it was their first. “Stars” blew up that summer. I was obsessed by the fall. I had their 2nd release, Electra 2000, shortly after. I purchased it at Newbury Comics in Boston when I was at UHA that fall. It was a band that spoke to me both in it’s space & science lyrics as well as the sonic boom it made both musically and acoustically. I got to see them the summer 1995. (The) Verve was headlining. It was my only original 930 Club show. But it was awesome. And fucking loud. Orange and HiWatt amps really know how to produce loud masses of decibels. Sadly, after their 4th record, they sorta crumbled. I guess partially because RCA didn’t know how to correctly market them to radio and perhaps because they said all they had to say. Bummer. These guys really had something going. Drop-D shoegaze is good stuff. And yet another awesome band from Chicago. There hasn’t been a band in this vein that has captured their loud intense power while retaining a sort of majestic quality with incredible melody. If there has, I want to know about them.

  1. Winder (Electra 2000) – Quite possibly my favorite Hum song, ever. A perfect album closer, if I may add. I love how there are 2 verses and the chorus is instrumental. Live (and even here,) this song will bore a hole through your body. In addition, this song spoke to me lyrically. I guess it’s how many lost college kids feel in some way or another.
    I'm just a white guy from the future, I'm completely out of touch.
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  3. Ms. Lazarus (The Pod single) – This b-side version was considered a demo. I like this much better than the more polished album version for some reason. Maybe it’s the slightly faster tempo.
  4. Why I Like The Robins (You’d Prefer An Astronaut) – It’s a song in 6/8 that really rocks it. Astronaut was my jam when I’d travel from BDL to BWI in college. And it was perfect, from the minute they allowed CD players after takeoff to the minute you were required to shut it off. 45:47. Genius.
  5. Hello Kitty (Hello Kitty 7″)
  6. Green To Me (Downward Is Heavenward) – The shining star of the record. Mark Rubel from Pogo Studios done well.
  7. The Pod (You’d Prefer An Astronaut) – The drums are huge and that’s ok by me.
  8. Suicide Machine (You’d Prefer An Astronaut) – This song took forever for me to start liking it. But it finally hit me, recently. I seem to remember always passing above the clouds at this point in my travels. It fit the scene perfectly. Keith Cleversly (The Flaming Lips, The Posies, Mercury Rev, etc) produced Astronaut and it couldn’t have been a more perfect marriage.
  9. Boy With Stick (Stars single) – Somehow Hum does a 7/8 song that sludges it way to heaven. Sometimes I hear a little Dinosaur Jr. in this cut. I love when Matt Talbott’s vocals are just below the mix. Check out the hits at 5:06. Stellar.

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  10. Double Dip (Electra 2000) – I could never tell what was up with the drummer on this record. I don’t know if it was Brad Wood’s production. I doubt, because he’s a pretty able producer. But I feel the bass drum wasn’t compressed enough or the pedal was too damn tight. Regardless the bass drum is funky and slightly ahead of the beat throughout the record. But it’s still a great cut. A great warm-up for Winder. The fade-in squelch in your left channel at 4:06 kicks it.
  11. Isle Of The Cheetah (Downward Is Heavenward) – If anyone can count this time signature, I’d be grateful. I hear 6/8 and 5/8 and 2/4. And combinations thereof.

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PS. You might notice I have nothing here from their first record, Fillet Show. While I feel it’s a decent first effort, I feel there are no really great tunes on it. I also feel they were a completely different band then.

6 Responses to “Top 10 Favorite Hum Songs”

  • Great list! I absolutely adore this band, to this day. Tim Lash and Brian St. Pere were the secret weapons in the group, the former ripping off thrash metal licks while the latter worked his way around the kit like an octopus. You should check out the Glifted record – it’s Lash and the guy from Lovecup – very shoegazey, but noisy as all hell.

    They were from Champagne, IL, if I remember correctly…

  • Awesome, underappreciated band. Nice post! And I hope you don’t mind that I borrowed the Top 10 theme on and did my top 10 music icons. To be fair, I credited you as inspiration!

  • Ameche – Good call on being from Champagne. Ooops. Will check out the Glifted. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Any Given Tuesday – My pleasure. Keep it rolling!

  • “Diffuse” and “If You Are to Bloom” should be on that list IMO.

  • I’ve also been a Hum nut since the summer of ’05.

    “Pocket”, from Fillet Show, is an amazing song with a beautiful coda…easily one of my favorite Hum songs. I also enjoy Spacefuck and Lip Saga. Unfortunately Andy’s singing, while interesting and unique, kind of takes a lot away from the “Hum” quality.

    If you haven’t heard “Hello Kitty” from the 7″…check it out if you can. This tune is an excellent Hum gem and has become one of my all time favorite Hum songs. The breakdown into the quiet interlude is divine.

    Astronaut is pretty much my favorite album by any band. The first four songs off of that album are pretty much my favorite musical moments ever put to tape. “The Pod” is perfectly written and the instruments tell just as powerful of a story and paint just as vivid a picture as do the lyrics. The song also contains the most achingly beautiful anti-solo I’ve ever heard. This song literally changed the way I heard and listened to music and more importantly, sound. The amazing feedback coda of “Suicide Machine” still sends chills down my spine to this day as it meanders and intertwines around melting octave shifts.

    “The Scientists” is probably my favorite track from DIH. This is the song (perhaps with Cheetah) that sounds to me the most Hum-like and harkens back to when the band had a little more oomph. There is also an amazing (though buried) feedback outro immediately post the interlude that is probably my favorite moment on the whole record. Otherwise, DIH sounds a little too tired and sonically mushy. I think there’s too much reverb on the drums and the crispness and immediacy is lost, blurring the cymbals, toms and snare together too much. Also, analogue amp distortion was used on all the guitars and I personally miss the psychedelic swirly hi-gain from YPAA. In turn, these qualities take away a lot of the ethereal “rock” edginess to the record that gave Hum’s songs much of their inspirational energy. It’s a shame the band didn’t finish recording it initially with Keith Cleversley in ’96-’97…the regrouping time seemed to really impact the tone and mood of the record.

    The sheer bombast and power of E2K wins me over every time. There are few songs on this record that less than incredible. Bryan’s drumming, in particular, is mind blowing at times and to this day I have a hard time keeping up with the time changes on songs like “Scraper”. “Winder” is a personal Hum anthem as far as I’m concerned and easily one of my fav. Hum songs. The two-chord/interlude/time-change mind fuck of “Iron Clad Lou” causes me to wonder why no one writes songs quite like this anymore. Tension and release at its finest.

    Here are my fav. Hum ditties:

    Hello Kitty
    Iron Clad Lou
    Shovel (some of my favorite Hum lyrics are in here, the dissonant mish-mash of upper and lower register simultaneous guitar chords just rips. Kind of early Sonic Youth-ish)
    Little Dipper
    The Pod
    Suicide Machine
    Ms Lazarus (demo) (faster tempo, less bottom heavy mix, rawness+energy)
    Isle of the Cheetah
    The Scientists
    Inklings (here’s to hoping we hear a studio recording of this someday)

    If you like Hum, I recommend the following albums:
    Love Cup – Greefus Gronks and Sheet
    Failure – Magnified / Fantastic Planet
    Space Needle – The Moray Eels Eat The Space Needle
    Dis- – Small Fry Sessions 1 & 2 / M 386 .D57 1994
    Bitch Magnet – Umber + Star Booty / Ben Hur
    Centaur – In Streams
    Honcho Overload – Smiles Everyone / Pour Another Drink (Matt and Jeff from Hum play bass and guitar (respectively) in this band)
    Pond – s/t / The Practice Of Joy Before Death
    Pelican – s/t / Austalasia / The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw
    Poster Children – Junior Citizen (Jeff played on an earlier PKids record, Rose from PKids suggested the name Hum for the band)
    Seam – The Problem With Me
    Slint – Spiderland
    My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
    Swervedriver – Raise
    Zoom – Helium Octipede

  • Right on the money. “Winder” and “Why I like the Robins” are stellar. Now, if they would just play them live again.

    Anyone catch the show last night in Chicago?

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