Local indie-rock trio Hectorina continues to be one of the area's most dynamic acts and its new, self-titled studio album solidifies that statement. From the opening, jangly, falsetto-laden "I Want to Be Well" to the Lennon-esque screaming of "I Traded My Gun for a Butterfly Net" to the all-over-the-map schizophrenia of "I Picked Up a Black Snake and I Put it Down," the album's 11 tracks are a great snapshot of where the band is today.
Hectorina's confidence in experimentation and melody — or lack thereof — is a tribute to the trio's slow-but-steady development in less than four years. Having other releases — two full length and two EPs — this album shows the band's finely crafted approach with fantastic results.
Perhaps singer-guitarist Dylan Gilbert is a bit over-ambitious — the band has recorded a rock opera already — but his range of abilities and styles come through in all of the varied songwriting. His vocals can convey the right tone — sweetly or sharply; soft and loud; relaxed and frustrated. The band — bassist Zach Jordan and drummer John Harrell III — isn't afraid to experiment with time signatures or tones — check the cacophony of noises on "I'm a Pretty Mean Hoofer Buddy." "Slave" should be on radio today with its retro soul verses and pop-rock chorus. They can change styles at the drop of a hat and make it work — well. Of course, none of this even takes into consideration the band's talents in the live setting, but that's another review for another time.
Daniel Hodges of Old House Studios and Dave Harris of Studio B Mastering should also get some of the credit for the album's sonic quality, as well. It's a fine piece of craftsmanship and while Hectorina requires more than one listen to make your way through the layers, it's worth it. Hectorina has put together one of the year's best local releases. Celebrate the album's release at Snug Harbor on Sept. 11.