It's funny how trends turn in terms of the cool becoming passé and the unspeakably lame becoming "the shit." For first-wave punks, guitar solos were as voguish as a Three's Company T-shirt; the ascendance of Meat Puppets and Dinosaur Jr. made nimble-fingered six-string aerobics stylish again. Generations of indie-rock aesthetes directed their most toxic contempt for the intricacies, excesses, and pretensions of progressive rock (alternately known as "art rock" or simply "prog") Jethro Tull, post-Syd Barrett Pink Floyd, and Camel were considered clowns, technique-over-passion relics. Now Sacramento, California's Hella threatens to endow prog with a hipness factor as high as that of prescient combos Velvet Underground, Monks, and the Stooges. In its distinctive fashion, Hella is just as scarily unpredictable as Boredoms or Mr. Bungle coarse, shredding guitars drive angular melodic lines and dissonant progressions with feverish precision while Aaron Ross (the new fellow) puts across the words like a manic gene-splice spawn of the Fall's Mark E. Smith and David Byrne. Some would saddle Hella with the "math rock" tag, but they're less mathematical than geometrical. If ever there was a band to unite the fans of the Minutemen and Yes, to explore the overlap 'twixt Rush and Ruins, Hella is it.
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