Want to hear a Siren sing?

Review of Hinterland's Under the Waterline

I first saw Hinterland on December 12, 2004, as they opened for Faith and the Muse at Sonar in Vancouver and was blown away by the stage presence of both the lead singer, Michaela Galloway, and her band mates. Michaelaƕs tiny frame didn't prepare me for the power of her voice and the four handsome gents who accompanied her on stage meant business as they delivered an hour of heavenly music. home chlamydia test cvs

Faith and the Muse were incredible, but what made the show so memorable for me was Hinterland. You always know when you see a band that's destined for greatness and Hinterland is a force just waiting to be unleashed worldwide to critical success and fan based hysteria and adoration.

I heard the band say they had an album for sale but they vanished quickly once their set was over. So, I wrote to the band and said I'd love to do a review of their work and, lo and behold, they sent me a pile of goodies. I have to tell you: not only do Hinterland deliver live, their first studio album Under the Waterline is magic. We're all looking for a voice to believe in. Morrissey had it for The Smiths, Robert Smith has it for the Cure, Marty Ballantyne has it for Breach of Trust, PJ Harvey has it for, well, PJ Harvey. Right up there for voices who awe me is Michaela Galloway. She has it for Hinterland - no doubt about it. I find her voice both hypnotic and healing. The band is fantastic and there's a harmony the group reaches throughout the album that will leave you staring blissfully into space for days after you've had a listen.

As I listen to Under the Waterline, I keep thinking, "Where have I heard this music before? Where have I heard this voice?"

These are dangerous questions for a band who's just released their first album, but I have a point. Hinterland was inspired by many bands and I'm guessing they were The Cranes, Slowdive, Sarah McLachlan, The Cure, and My Bloody Valentine - to name a few. Listen to the opening track "wasntevenwinded" and you'll swear that's a Cranes' opening. But when Michaela Galloway starts singing, look out: Hinterland takes off on its own glorious path. Michaela Galloway's range can go as high as Kate Bush's, as deep as Alison Shaw's from the Cranes, and as low as Sinead O'Connor. She's got this siren-esque medicine that can lure you anywhere she wants to take you and you'll go willingly--believe me. What's also magnificent about Hinterland is the majesty of Michaela's lyrics. Courtesy of the band, here they are for every song:

Wasntevenwinded

I ran for miles through the fields outside of fortune
I ran for hours through the tunnels board by circumstance
I ran still further on the roads laid down by providence

And I wasn't even winded
No I wasn't even winded
I wasn't even winded

The second track, "lethe waters", is all theirs. No comparisons here and now's the time to introduce the band: We've got Kyle Fogden on guitars, keyboards, bass and omnichord; Michaela not only sings, she plays the flute, the oboe, keyboards and percussion; John Lucas plays guitar, baritone guitar and bass; Cameron McLellan plays bass and guitar and Greg Steffensen plays drums and percussion. The producer of the album, Jonathan Anderson, joins the band with lap steel, guitar, banjo, keyboards, vibraphone and percussion. And what a superb job they all do.

Here's the lyrics:

Lethe Waters

Shame dripping from wicked thoughts is bitter like soap in my clenched mouth
Anger is overwhelming and stinging like iodine on broken skin
Its painful, but healing, or at least it could be if I could let it through me

But losing control scares me
It's never letting go of me
It's holding my emoting
Face down under water
Losing control scares me
It's never letting go of me
It's holding my emoting face down

Under the waterline

Attachment is as showing as plate glass and growing
like clematis on fractured stone corroded till it falls
Distance cannot be damaged but it isn't anything

But losing control scares me
It's never letting go of me
It's holding my emoting
Face down under water
Losing control scares me
It's never letting go of me
It's holding my emoting
Face down
Face down
Face down
Face down

"Low low light" begins and it's just dreamy. Feel that beginning wash over you like holding your child for the first time. No wonder fans kept yelling out for it when Hinterland came out for their second encore. It's a Cocteau Twins introduction with Michaela elevating us to angelic heights with her voice as she swims from the depths to heaven above and carries us in her wings all the way. Wow. What a song. I love the guitars in this song. Very slidey and wondrous! Sarah McLachlan used to be able to take her voice this high in her earlier work--namely her "Touch" album--but Michaela does it effortlessly. This is where Hinterland sounds a bit like Kate Bush's earlier work but they take the song where it wants to go and they take their sweet time doing it. This song could go for days and I wouldn't move. Bravo!

Low Low Light

Fear, keep me safe away keep me close and away away from harm
It's easier to be afraid then to leave your arms

In my winter

Fear, keep me far away keep me closed down from everything
It's easier to hold my place in a frozen world

I'm welded to the ground

"Aspidistra" is another lovely tune that opens with Michaela playing the flute and launching into a mesmerizing melody. This track where I think Michaela sounds like Sinead O'Connor at her best and takes the song higher with her very own grace.

Here's the lyrics:

Aspidistra

I don't need a gun
I've got my weapons
I cause damage on my own

My own
On my own

You don't need a gun
You've got your weapons
You cause damage on your own

Your own
On your own

There's no need to drop bombs
We've got our tongues drawn
And we hold destruction in our mouths

'cause in love
we're in for
the long war
in for violence

in love
we're in for
the long war
in for violence

in love
we're in for
the long war
in for violence

We don't need a gun
We've got our weapons
We cause damage on our own

There's no need to drop bombs
We've got our tongues drawn
And we hold destruction in our mouths

"Portrait of my invention" begins like a Sarah McLachlan song and transforms into a song that will pull you into dreamland and run you off the highway if you're not careful.

Here's the lyrics:

Portrait of My Invention

Oh you were invisible to me
You were invisible
I made you invisible to me
You were invisible

I spun wool from the threads that you gave on conjectures
And pulled down over my eyes
Deaf, dumb, and blind I painted your picture
With oils of misconstrual
On my left hand and on my right fingers
The ink of misunderstanding
I hang on the wall a portrait of my invention

Oh you were invisible to me
You were invisible
I made you invisible to me
You were invisible

With oils of misconstrual.
On my left hand and on my right fingers
The ink of misunderstanding
I hang on the wall a portrait of my invention

Oh you were invisible to me
You were invisible
I made you invisible to me
You were invisible

But you stripped the paint away
And now I see you
You stripped the paint away
And now I know you

"Heavy-eyed and hiding" is a slow beauty of a climb that's both pretty and seductive and Michaela takes her time here to dance her voice softly over your ears. I like how the band slowly increases its "rock out" factor to a controlled frenzy and I'm hoping on their next album they give 'er. I know they have to hold back for this one, but they have the capabilities for a berserker rage and I'd like to be there when they snap(!). I love the instrumental at the end of the song. It's spooky and sexy all at the same time.

Here's the lyrics:

Heavy-eyed and Hiding

Your halcyon nest is secure
So we lay low lay low lay low
Behind the sides deep in down

We stay quiet
to catch the natural environment
We don't want to disturb the chemicals

Heavy-eyed we hide from everything outside

Sleep mechanics in a woven world
Yah, we lay low lay low lay low
And go through our pupation

Calm the waters, still the wind
By staying in
By staying in today we're not missing anything

Heavy-eyed we hide from everything outside

Your halcyon nest is secure
So we lay low lay low lay low
Behind the sides deep in down

Calm the waters, still the wind
By staying in
By staying in today we're not missing anything

But when morning finds all our windows
Morning finds us under cover
When morning finds us
We'll be ready we'll be ready we'll be ready
We'll be ready we'll be ready we'll be ready

"Red-light camera" sounds and feels like a Gaelic prayer sung on the lips of several women and there's an innocence here that's reaching for something sacred. Wow . . .

Here's the lyrics:

Red-Light Camera

I'm not addicted too much
I can give most things up

But I can quit sleep
And I can't quit air
And I can't quit water
And I can't quit you

I'm not addicted too much
I can give most things up

But I can quit sugar
And I can't quit salt
And I can't quit thinking
And I can't quit you

"Tiger Tiger" is the one song that I can't compare Michaela's voice to. It's the most delicate of all the tracks on this album and it's flawless. Listen to it and enter the realm of the Siren. Listen to that incredible ending!

Here's the lyrics:

Tiger Tiger

Tiger tiger there's no need for you to stalk me
You will find me just where you are hunting
Take me by the neck and down for the kill
I'm in the open I'll be waiting for you here

Oh

Tiger tear into the trees I hide behind
This tangled tropical jungle behind my eyes
Rip right through into the veins that are the vines
Wound tight wound around my tongue this lullaby

Oh

Tiger break the bones that keep me hold me still
Strip the pulled tight skin that covers me with fear
And I won't run from won't escape this overdue
Tiger take what's dead from me so I can love you

Oh

Tiger tiger there's no need for you to stalk me
You will find me just were you are hunting

"Divebomb" is the perfect track to end on as it starts with synth magic that lingers throughout the song as Michaela's voice swoons and rises until the very end.

Here's the lyrics:

Divebomb

Wake me up
Bright like a leaf dying
In wool and warm
Like a spun up moth
Wake up empty promissory

Wake me up
Bright like a leaf dying
In wool and warm
Like a spun up moth
Wake up empty promissory

Birds of flight
Break the skies crystalline
Birds of flight
Take the skies and
Divebomb divebomb

This stasis
It cannot hold me here
Asleep, forgotten
Like a stuck princess
Stasis, changeless, illusory

Birds of flight
Break the skies crystalline
Birds of flight
Take the skies and
Divebomb divebomb divebomb divebomb
Divebomb divebomb divebomb divebomb

I always feel like I'm climbing something when I listen to Hinterland, and I realize, after twenty full listens to the album, that I'm climbing to a peace that only great music can bring. Way to go, Hinterland. You're well on our way to heights you can't even imagine because we all know when we are in the presence of a band that has something precious and you have something very beautiful here. Don't stop!

For more information on the band, please check out www.hinterland.bc.ca and http://hinterlandbc.blogspot.com. The band's e-mail is


Back to the Richard Van Camp Website