Bottom of the Hudson creates music that I could hop right into like a ride at the amusement park, without a wait and without the worry of whether or not my erudition had reached the intellectual height to ride. Fantastic Hawk is an easy ride with tunes that roll steady, with no unexpected turns that bang ears against shoulder harness in a roller coaster, but is heavily rhythmic, anchored to the ground without making any atmospheric leaps into ambiance. The songs revolve around a stable rhythm that starts low and slow, but as the ride goes on, can reach to great heights and widths, revolutions keeping the same rhythmic time like a swing carousel, but giving a feeling of speed to accommodate for all of the additional instrumental ground that the song covers in each of its growing revolutions ringing around the rhythm. Once each song reaches its height, it stays there long enough to give all those riding a good glimpse of the soundscape below them, to absorb the sounds and smells that have been arranged around this rotating rhythm.
While the album is largely easy going, that certainly doesn’t mean there cannot be a rock thrown into the rolling rhythms. “Hide and Seek” follows a traditional rock song structure, initiating verses, resounding chorus with a familiar chant, while leaving room for some solo work near the end, keeping everything energetic, fast-paced. Nothing strays too far from the rhythm established at the beginning of each song, each song, if they could be summed in a word, being chill, or, to modify, quite chill. Many of the songs follow the aforementioned structure, though “Fantastic Hawk” is a notable exception, layering melodies upon melodies on top of the rhythm set at the beginning, stacking to dizzying heights suddenly shock of vertigo as all of the layered tunes seem to accumulate so quickly and without any conscious notice being taken.
Vocals on this album are worth noting for their keeping so adamantly in rhythm, compounded by a musical lyricism bent on allowing the sound of each lyric speak louder than the words themselves. While the lyrics are of course intelligible, many songs get by without me having to know what the vocalist is talking about. When words are set to music, it’s the music that matters most.
To reiterate, this really is an album that can be summed up in the word “chill.”
Pavement – Brighten the Corners
Sebadoh – Bakesale
The Ladybug Transistor – Can’t Wait Another Day