The Hi-Frequencies – S/T

Each time I’ve listened to the Hi-Frequencies’ full-length, self-titled debut one word, has come to mind: vintage. The Pittsburgh, PA group is all about 60s style rock, from the retro color block album cover to their classic instruments and sound equipment (think 1962 Fender Telecaster, as an example). The band even recorded the album on one track, meaning that everything you hear was played live as a group. Though none of the Hi-Frequencies’ four members was even alive in the 1960s, this style of music seems ingrained in their souls and they each add their own touch to the foundation they’re building off.
The band has a decidedly DIY edge. Kate Daly (bass and maracas) designed the album cover and apparently also designs flyers for the bands shows. Drummer Bill Scully refurbished his father’s 60s drum kit for his own use. The band recorded on their Teen Regime label. This to me is proof enough that the Hi-Frequencies aren’t pampered musicians, and I imagine they’d be nice people to know. I’m intrigued by the band’s professionalism in these ventures, as everything is slick and neat and completely genuine.
Perhaps the best thing about this album is it’s just plain fun. The Hi-Frequencies music is upbeat pop that easily transports you back to a time of dinner jackets, shag carpeting, and Frankie & Annette – even if you weren’t old enough to remember any of these things. Their sound recalls the best of the Ventures, the Beach Boys and Dick Dale. Yes, the Hi-Frequencies are best described as surf rock, but don’t let that label pigeonhole them for you.
Of the 15 tracks here, nine of them are instrumentals that would be perfect accompaniment to your retro barbeque or beach party, complete with tiki torches. Bill McAdams’ jangly guitar is perfectly matched to Daly’s bass, Jason Lizzi’s guitar, and Scully’s drums. A few tracks even add band friends Ron Strelecki on baritone guitar and Melissa Varner on piano. This is music that demands dancing, or at the very least toe tapping and finger snapping if you’re too cool to cut a rug. The tracks with vocals take a slightly different turn from similar music of the past, as they don’t have harmonies – it’s just McAdams singing. His voice has that sort of monotone, but enjoyable quality a la Buddy Holly, who’s “Peggy Sue Got Married” is the only cover here.
Maybe it’s the number of instrumentals on this album, but it’s hard to talk about each individual song here. The tracks come off almost like one flowing composition that sort of bonds one song to the next. The Hi-Frequencies’ full-length debut is more like a soundtrack to some hepcat’s life that is meant to be experienced from start to finish. You won’t find yourself skipping around or picking out a favorite song because this album is one unit. If you dig 60s pop-rock, the Hi-Frequencies will be a great modern find, but I’d highly recommend this album to anyone who, like myself, likes to have some fun and take a break from self-important or overly serious music.