This is Champaign, IL based brilliance known as HUM. They are probably best known for their indie hit “Stars”…. (“She missed the train to Mars… she’s out back counting stars”). Full disclosure, I am biased beyond belief towards this band. Gun to my head, pick my favorite song ever… (impossible, right?)… if I had to… it would be “Stars”. It hit me at a time in my life where my own band was developing. To put it simply… I played the guitar and wrote music a certain way… until I heard HUM and Quicksand. Then I played and wrote different. Not trying to copy their style, but realizing how amazing it sounds to have the huge wall of distortions… without all the edge and aggression. And that was HUM. They probably ‘peaked’ around the time Stars got heavy MTV play, (even Beavis and Butthead almost caught wind of the band… but the songs ‘fake out’ intro confused them and they only made it to the big signature guitar hit at the beginning). The album the track was spawned from, “You’d Prefer An Astronaut” came out in 1995. They followed up with, “Downward is Heavenward” in 1998. Both were critically well received, fans dug them… and then the band went down in history as one of those great secrets that not everyone knows about. And then they kind of faded away. A show here and there… side projects from members… singer Matt Talbot opened a bar called the “Loose Cobra”. Which is just a small dive of a place that has indie bands crammed against the wall, banging out sets for 50 people. I’ve been there. Matt served me a beer. It was surreal. And that was pretty much it for HUM it seemed. Inlet – 2020 Earth Analog Records But apparently, much to my recent delight… HUM released an album in 2020. I was too busy ‘quarantining’ and maintaining my own sanity through most of that year, so I missed a lot. And if you are reading this, than perhaps you too are a fan and missed the beat. So the obvious question… is “Inlet” any good? Yes. It’s Amazing. The first two tracks immediately confirm everything you want out of HUM. Thick riffs, catchy turns, meaningful vocal lines, cascading leads dripping in their own effects… HUM delivers on their formula like they had just taken a couple months off from their last tour, instead of the 20 years its been. Witness and behold: “Waves” The second track, “In The Den” also bulldozes through the heavy velvet of sonic bliss… The third track, “Desert Rambler” falls into that almost mopey, sullen, quiet shuffle of a song that HUM likes to pull back into. But even that EXPLODES half-way through into a glorious blown out affair that takes 9 minutes to complete. Throughout the album, the riffs can be huge, deep, and sludgy, almost stoner-doom Sabbathy… but the overall effect.. just isn’t that. It’s lofty and air-y, and that’s 100% because of Matt Talbots oh-so-charming calm and easy going vocal deliveries. Thoughtful poetry draped across these impossibly dense riffs. And instead of sinking beneath the weight of its own sound… it soars… despite being heavy. That’s the secret of HUM. The ample use of swirling delays and echoes on the leads is also classic HUM, which pulls in their often made, and much deserved My Bloody Valentine comparisons. But those lines are drawn to be compliments. Some tracks, they are caught up in the maelstrom, on others, they can become the central hook upon which the song is built, like on, “Folding” one of the later tracks on the album. But I just can’t get over how big and juicy the riffs are on, “Inlet”. Check out “The Summoning”. It’s laced in dark and doom, stomping through a planet sized chunk of rhythm. Again, were it not for Talbot’s gauzy vocal lines, the band would probably earn a much more ‘agressive’ metal-sub-genre label. And for HUM, “Inlet” is most certainly the heaviest album the band has ever put out. For my ears, that’s nothing but awesome. “Inlet” comes loaded with 8 tracks of HUM. Big ol’ fuzzy, wall of sound HUM. Catchy, drifting, melodic HUM. It was truly a joy wading through this album and liking every track. Feeling those same pains of yearning that are always reflecting in Talbots words and voice. Basking in the waterfalls of guitars and the bands overall ‘sound’. Again, the perfection of heavy without the aggression. The loud without the edge. The avalanche of distortion without the teeth. It wraps around you like a friend instead of punching you in the heart like an ex. Very few bands can do this. And no band can do this like HUM. It’s amazing to see a band pick up the pieces of themselves they laid down a long time ago. It’s apparent it never really left them. It just lay dormant. Fermenting. Dissolving. Reforming. Until it was time. And just because it’s my favorite….