Archive for the ‘The HU’ Category

[ATTENDED: September 14, 2021] The HU

The HU are from Mongolia. I saw them in this same venue two years ago.  They haven’t released much in those intervening years, but I enjoyed the first show so much I wanted to see them again (plus, I was pretty delighted that they were back touring the States). on the left side in front of Temuulen Naranbaatar a.k.a. “Temka” who plays the tovshuur (a two or three string lute-like instrument).

But I knew I wanted to be on the other side for this show.  And so I set out to stand in front of Enkhasaikhan Batjargal a.k.a. “Enkush” who played lead morin khuur.  This was pretty exciting as I really got to watch him play the solos.

The two guys in the middle are the main singers.  Galbadrakh Tsendbaatar a.k.a. “Gala” is credited with “lead throat singing,” which I love.  His voice was incredible.  He also played the morin khuur with a gorgeously carved horse head at the top.  This instrument is two-stringed and you play it with a bow.

And Nyamjantsan Galsanjamts a.k.a. “Jaya” who was sort of the lead singer, although Gala sang lead as often.  Jaya’s main instrument was, fascinatingly, the jaw harp which played a significant role in several songs.  He also played the tsuur (a Mongolian flute).

There are technically four guys in the band, but for the tour they had four extra guys supporting them.  The touring guys mostly hung at the back, although occasionally the guitarist Jambaldorj Ayush a.k.a “Jamba” would come up front.   In the back on the left was Batkhuu Batbayar on bass.  Then there were the two drummers.  Sitting at the full kit was Odbayar Gantumur a.k.a “Odko.”  The final player, and one I could see occasionally was Unumunkh Maralkhuu a.k.a “Ono.”  Ono played two large drums.  Mostly they were an accompaniment to the main drum, but occasionally they were the only percussion.  Those drums resonated loudly. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 14, 2021] The Haunt

I was pretty delighted to see that Mongolia’s The HU were coming back to Philly.  I really enjoyed their set last time and figured they’d be just as fun this time.

This year’s opening band was The Haunt, who I’d never heard of (and it’s VERY hard to find them online because there’s all kinds of Haunt-named bands).

And here’s a fascinating bit of history

The Haunt, formerly known as AnastasiaMax are from South Florida. The band consists of siblings, Anastasia Grace Haunt (lead vocals), and Maxamillion Haunt (vocals, guitar and production), alongside Nat Smallish on bass guitar (formally Beach Day), and Nick Lewert on drums (formally Ethan Bortnick).

I can’t guarantee that those last two were the rhythm section.  he mentioned their names, but all I remember is that the drummer was nicknamed “waffles.”

I arrived in the middle of the first song (I hate the parking around TLA) and managed to get past the clustered people after a song or two.  But right from the start I was impressed with the sound of the song “Constant.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE HU-The Gereg (2019).

The HU were something of a novelty when they released this album.  A band from Mongolia!  Playing weird instruments!  Throat singing!

But they really proved themselves.  They toured the U.S. (and were great live), they’ve even had some famous-ish singers do some remixes).  A year later, this album really holds up.  The songs are simple, mostly relying on rhythm, but the melodies of the choruses really grab you.

Most of the songs revel in the low end–deep vocals, throat singing, and lots of drums and bass.  The first song “The Gereg” (Гэрэг “Home”) sets the example.  There’s pumping drums and chanting–perfect for a live event.  They also have some soaring solos from their Mongolian instruments, the Ayanga Morin Khuur and the Baigali Tovshuur.  There’s also prominent use of the Tumur Khuur (the jaw harp).  But its the chorus melody that is so wonderfully catchy.

“Wolf Totem” (Чонон сүлд) is really catchy.  It starts with some call and response singing and then a simple but gripping riff–like a slow heavy metal song.  When the band starts chanting “Hu Hu Hu” you can imagine the fists raised along.

“The Great Chinggis Khan” (Их Чингис Хаан) is a slower song with an epic feel. The vocals are quieter in the beginning, but the song slow builds.  There’s a lot more instrumentation and different types of throat singing by thened.

“The Legend of Mother Swan” (Хун ээжийн домогnext) has a fantastic groove as the song moves almost relentlessly forward, growing in intensity as the melody slowly goes up the scale.  The vocal melody is really enticing.  It’s like the Mongolian “Kashmir.”

“Shoog Shoog” (Шөөг шөөг) opens with the Tsuur, a traditional flute, and chants of “Shoog Shoog.”  But when the bass comes in with a very cool riff, the song becomes something else entirely, a kind of metal song.  When you add in the chorus (which is catchy and intense) it sounds fantastic.  It’s easy to sing along to and is a great love song.

“The Same” (Агаар нэгэн буй “Whisper Whisper”) is a slower song, built around a dramatic melody and vocal line.  With lots of high soaring solos.  But once again, it’s the propulsive rhythm that is the real hook.

“Yuve Yuve Yu” (Юу вэ юу вэ юу? “What is What?”) is a wonderful propulsive song.  The vocal melody is fantastic (the way it ends with the title which is fun to say even if you didn’t know what it means) is a terrific hook and the chorus is also lots of fun.  There’s even a sort of “oooh” singalong but it sounds different from any one I’ve heard in a Western song.

“Shireg Shireg” (Ширэг ширэг) sounds very different from the others–lighter and more ubeat.  There’s some gorgeous tsuur throughout the song and the vocal melody feels inviting.  It shows another side to the band and is really a nice addition.  The returning flute melody is very catchy.

“Song of Women” (Бүсгйн дуун) is the final song.  It’s another epic, this time seven minutes long.  It builds slowly.  Musically this song is nice and full and has some really pretty vocal harmonies.

This album is really terrific, with not a bad song in the bunch.  I really hope they can come back to the States when they tour again.

[READ: November 18, 2020] “Too Skinny”

Marv Bertel was a successful man in an unhappy marriage.  He was also very heavy and had been for most of his life.

So he started losing weight (he makes it seem very easy, too).  And when he reached his goal weight, he divorced his wife and tried to start a new life.

He went to bars, he met women, he appreciated being admired.  But he also had resentments from when he was heavy and these same women wouldnt look at him.

So he never did anything with them.  He accepted the the flirtations.  He lied about himself (a different lie for each person) and he started to feel strange.  Guilty that he could lie so easily, but also strangely powerful.

So I never saw where this was going.  (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 13, 2019] The HU

The HU are from Mongolia.  I first heard about them when their video for “Wolf Totem” was getting some buzz.  I loved their heavy sound and their gorgeous instruments.  I wish these pictures did justice to the intricate detail and coloring of these traditional(ish?) instruments, but the lighting was just awful the whole night.

There are technically four guys in the band, but for the tour they had four extra guys supporting them.  It’s hard to know how “necessary” the other four guys were, but honestly, the songs are so percussion-heavy, there’s no way that they could have made these songs without at least one drummer (two were even better).

The band has only one album out (so its pretty amazing that they headliners)  They played the whole album and jammed out some of the songs longer than on record.

The most surprising thing though was that the DJ from WMMR came out and introduced them saying that they played their songs on the station.  Is that possible?  That’s pretty amazing if they do.  He also made a pretty funny comment about talking to them all day (they speak almost no English), although they posted a picture showing that they took them axe-throwing which is pretty hilarious).

The four guys stood at the front of the stage. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 13, 2019] Crown Lands

Crown Lands are a duo from Canada.  As with a lot of rocking duos, they play riff-heavy rock.  But they change things around a bit.  In their bio they say they are huge fans of Rush, and while they don’t do anything as complex as Rush, you can hear the Rush influence all over their songs.  The size of Cody Bowles’ drum set, the little high hat fills, and some of the percussion.  And Guitarist Kevin Comeau plays a doubleneck Rickenbacker and some of the chord progressions are distinctly Rush-ian.  And yet you would never hear them and think you were listening to Rush.

Comeau plays guitar and bass pedals which add a really full sound to their live show.  Bowles has a really powerful voice with a truly remarkable range.  He can do Robert Plant/Geddy Lee high screams, he also has a lower register for the body of most songs.  And their stage presence is pretty great too.

The have two EPS out and are planning a finishing up a full length now.  Most of the songs from this set came from their unreleased record, and these songs are great. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE HU-“Wolf Totem” and “Yuve Yuve Yu” (2018).

The HU are a band from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia who plays what they call Hunnu Rock.  There are four guys in the band: Gala, Jaya, Enkush, and Temka.

They have recently posted two videos online (after having been a band for about seven years).

Two of the men in the band play the morin khuur (морин хуур), or horsehead fiddle.  It’s a traditional Mongolian bowed stringed instrument. It is one of the most important musical instruments of the Mongol people, and is considered a symbol of the Mongolian nation.  The third member plays a shudraga, a three-stringed lute-like instrument which I suspect is being run through some distortion pedals.

Their instruments are beautiful with intricate designs on the neck and the heads.

Despite the traditional instruments, The Hu play very heavy music.  The shundraga appears to be playing some heavy chords, while the morin khuur play lots of cool solos.

The first song, “Wolf Totem” opens with what sounds like 1,000 thumping drums.  The morin khuur plays a bowed melody as the chanted vocals come forward.

The vocals are something of a guttural growl, but it makes sense as what you might think a Mongol leader might sound like.  There may even be some throat singing.

I also like that there’s an eagle call at the beginning and end of the song.

The fact that the video includes a host of leather jacketed motorcycle riders chanting the choral HU is pretty awesome.  And the Mongolian scenery is breathtaking.

The second song is “Yuve Yuve Yu.”  I’m mentioning the video first because it contrasts nicely.  It shows all the band members inside, playing video games, watching TV–very Western stuff.  But when they open the door of their flat, they find themselves outside on the plains.

The first guy steps outside to find his shudraga.  The riff is a but more substantial on this song, but only slightly.  It feels less like a call to arms and more like a song.

Although with a chorus (in Mongolian) of

Hey you traitor! Kneel down!
Hey, Prophecies be declared!

This seems more of a call to arms than the other.

There’s a cool sliding violin riff an instead of the guttural chanting there’s  a relatively high-pitched sung “doo do do” melody.

Both of these songs are quite cool, especially the accompanying videos.  The band has received some attention for the videos (which is how I found them).  They’ve even got their songs on bandcamp.

I’m curious to see if this will translate into somewhat mainstream success in the west.

[READ: January 10, 2019] “Whisky Lullaby”

This excerpt from a longer story is perfectly written–I loved the way it was presented and how the “ending” was revealed (it’s an excerpt, so not the real ending).

Hamid is a Muslim man living in Scotland.  He has recently married a Scottish woman, Ruqiyyah, who had converted to Islam a few years ago.  She was seeking a partner and he was seeking citizenship.

“She had not always been Ruqiyyah, she once was someone else with an ordinary name, a name a girl behind the counter in the Bank of Scotland might have.”

As the story opens, Ruqiyyah is holding a bottle e of Johnnie Walker.  It is his Hamid’s bottle and she shouldn’t know about it.  She is very unhappy about the bottle.  Being an intense convert plus being Scottish, she takes things like this far more seriously than he does.  He knows it is wrong, but in the grand scheme of things, drinking (instead of writing his PhD thesis) is pretty harmless compared to black magic, adultery, abusing your parents.  This was human weakness and wasn’t Allah all-forgiving? (more…)

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