Album Reviews

Hannis Brown: Oh Ah Ee [Album Review]

Hannis Brown

When a press release includes the classic RIYL (i.e. read if you like), it’s often a hint of what’s to come. However, there are times when all you can do is put a dumbfounded look on your face and give it a good listen. Hannis Brown is one such artist. This Los Angeles-based composer boasts a RIYL that includes Tortoise, Dirty Projectors, and Charles Mingus. Amidst that company, you know you’re in for something weird. The question that arises is: Will it live up to the mish-mash combination of eclectic artists? The answer, in the case of Hannis Brown, is somewhat.

Oh Ah Ee is certainly interesting, featuring bouts of free jazz, odd vocals, and found sounds. Were it to fully encompass the jazz genre, rather than foray into indie rock, I’d probably dig it even more. As it stands, Brown’s best moments are those that fit the jazz description. When indie rock is added, as heard in “Happy (Momentarily)”, Brown can be a hard pill to swallow. Actually, let me take that back — Brown is almost always a hard pill to swallow. But given a few listens, you may just find merit where you once found none. And, when it comes down to it, that’s an expected trait of the truly experimental artist.

I love tracks like “Oh Ah Ee” and “Ehhh AhOoo”, both of which could be dubbed the estranged, demented grand-neices of Mingus. The latter is an erratic track in which a stringed instrument fights with a bow. The song is followed by the very vocal and harmonic “My Head Is Underwater”, a song that is as eerie as it is pleasant — a complete, 180 degree transformation from its predecessor. Then there’s the tense string drone of “Gliss” followed by the blissful dreamy vocals in “Don’t Want To Go Anymore”. “Never Know Where I Am Going” reminds me of an acoustic version of the band HEALTH, minus the abrupt math-noise elements.

Oh Ah Ee is bizarre and awkward. But, you know, those traits are totally what Hannis Brown is going for, and that makes it alright for the most part. It’s not for everyone, but there is definitely a class of appreciators out there that will absolutely fall in love with this. To me, Hannis Brown is to music what mad scientists are to invention. Oh Ah Ee is for that type of music fan — the strange one. Me. For example: the more I listen, the more I like. I’m curious: where do you stand?

Download: “Oh Ah Ee” by Hannis Brown

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Hannis Brown: Oh Ah Ee

[CD, 2010]

1. Oh Ah Ee
2. Happy (Momentarily)
3. Ehhh AhOoo
4. My Head Is Underwater
5. Ahhhhh
6. Gliss
7. Don’t Want To Go Anymore
8. Shh [Ah] Shh [Ah] Shh
9. Never Know Where I’m Going
10. Eh Uh Eh
11. Eyes Closed
12. Ahhhh [.] Ohhhh
13. Nothing I Know Of

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