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  Night Light  
  Favorite Street  
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From what I've read, Hitchhike are band from Austin, Texas who have only been together a couple of years. With a female drummer, some reviewers are inevitably bound to compare them to the Velvet Underground. Likewise, with that same line up and an Austin heritage, others may look to Indie upstarts Black Lipstick. However, neither of these comparisons are by any means accurate. Rather, on their Night Light EP, released on Favorite Street Records, Hitchhike seem to be slightly mellow Indie Rock with a flair for arrangement and instrumental balance which belie their relatively short time playing together.

The EP begins with I'm Not Tired, which admittedly sounds a bit like the afore-mentioned Black Lipstick, with fairly minimal drumming and loud-ish guitars. However, upon closer inspection , the guitarwork here reminds me of Superchunk, back in the Precision Auto years, albeit a little quieter in tone. This song is particularly well recorded, with the drums isolated and distinct in the mix and the vaguely distorted guitars playing out of individual speakers. Furthermore, the primary vocals are spoke/sung, with some off-kilter harmonies coming in towards the end. Taken as a whole, I'm Not Tired is an absolutely wonderful rock song that, even at nearly five minutes, leaves me wanting another verse at its end.

Next comes It's You and Me. This one is slower and more deliberate, with apparently chorused guitarwork that is alternating minimalist and droney. With occasional empty sonic spaces, the drumwork of Lisa Barnett takes on a life of its own, acting like a melody unto itself. Furthermore, like in the previous track, I particular like the way the guitars are recorded. Each is sonically isolated and become respectively louder and softer in their turn.

The third song, Ceremony Three shifts musical gears slightly. It seems more reminiscent of that 60s-influsenced, slightly psychedelic rock that's best embodied these days by Athens bands like The Fairburn Royals, or maybe it's the handclaps that just give me that impression. The vocalist on Ceremony Three is different than on the first two songs. Based on the songwriting credits, I'm going to guess that this singer is John Alderson (as opposed to Kyle Barnett), who has a slightly higher-pitched voice, which works well with the slightly spacey music. As a side note, after three songs of varying musical types, I'm lead to wonder if Hitchhike known fellow Austinites Tammany Hall Machine? If so, maybe they ought to get together and tour, because I think their music would complement each other well.

All of Your Friends goes back to the earlier songwriter/vocalist, who I believe is Kyle Barnett. Song-wise, this tune seems to take the deliberate pacing of It's You and Me and combine it with the guitar style of the first song. More importantly, on this song I'm particularly impressed by the variation in Lisa Barnett's drumming style. With a song that is so relatively straight-forward, it would be too easy to stuck with a standard snare-heavy beat. Instead, Barnett syncopates the snare and alternates it with some variations on the toms. Likewise, the keyboards which show up during the second verse are understated, but seem essential to the ultimate musical unification of this song. In short, All of Your Friends takes a seemingly simple melodic riff and then expands on it with instrumental variations to wonderful effect.

Night Light ends with As It Is Said, sung again by Alderson. It begins with a few guitar arpeggios before an understate keyboard comes in and holds the melody, and then the keyboard in turn passes the melody off to the bass. All of this contrasts to Alderson's higher vocal line and combines to become a musical saunter, if you will. As It Is Said seems a bit more country-esque that the rest of the EP, but I suppose that might be due to Alderson's vocal tone. Either way, the instrumental interludes on this song are so pretty that is seems a shame to sing over them. This is not in any way a disparagement, but rather a reflection upon how lovely the actual music is.

In the end, Night Light is quite impressive, especially if you consider that the EP is apparently Hitchhike's first release. It would rank rather highly, even if the only good song were the nearly sublime I'm Not Tired. As it is, the rest more than stands on its own merits. Furthermore, the mix and the production are some of the best I've heard this side of Steve Albini. I looked high and low on the EP for a production credit, but alas it was not to be found. So, to whoever was responsible: excellent job. And to the band themselves: I had not heard of you previously, but you can bet that you're now on my musical radar.

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