Top 100 Artists of the Decade: #57 Hella
The Top 100 Artists of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one artist and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 artist of the decade!
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
Hella is sort of a strange case. When Spin Magazine gave their latest release, There Is No 666 In Outer Space, a lackluster two-star rating, the dudes yanked the entirety of the snarky review, threw that shit on a t-shirt and started selling it proudly at their merch tables. Now you, too, can sport some gear that hails your favorite band as "incomprehensible bombast."
This is what it's always been about: two dudes from Sacramento, CA doin' whatever they want with a wicked grin. Normally this would sound like a recipe for disaster - recklessly tossing out the weird contents of your mind into song is a practice that mostly deserves to live in your home garage and then, very quickly and thoroughly, die there. Yeah, "lo-fi experimental" usually equates to "jumbled mess of sounds," the sort of music that doesn’t escape beyond the ears of close - and tolerant - friends. But Hella did something tricky. They mastered the technical side and ran with their quirks. The core duo of Zach Hill and Spencer Seim swept the spectrum of whatever came on their radar - 8-bit, noise, anything that dealt in wonky time signatures. They ultimately popularized math rock for the current decade, paving the way for outfits like ever-loved Battles – a slicker presentation of Hella's schizophrenic we-can't-count-to-8-bars-without-starting-over style. Along the way, they paired with a fair number of giants in the industry: splits with indie rockers Dilute and formidable producer Four Tet, and tours with System of a Down and Mars Volta. Through it all, they honed a sound that was loud and crass but inescapably grounded in technique. Some have been crazier, and a few more complex, but no one merged those two angles quite like Hella did.
Check back tomorrow for the next artist! To see the full list of the Top 100 Artists of the Decade, click here.