It seems like every time I get a batch of CDs to review there is always one album with which I don’t know what to do. This time around it would be Hi Red Center’s Assemble. I am familiar with their label, Joyful Noise, and Hi Red Center sounds akin to some of the other material on there: kind of quirky and odd, but retaining something almost endearing within that weirdness. In that sense, they are very similar to Deerhoof but without the tiny Japanese voice. The range of instruments (vibraphone, keys, clarinet, trumpet, and bassoon as well as guitar and bass) is welcome and gives Hi Red Center some solid artistic ground to state their claim for being slightly unique. The vocals are male with some good harmonies, but after repeated listens and mulling over the nine tracks, I can’t help but think of those cute Japanese vocals of Deerhoof instead. It hits me how much this reminds me of the West Coast quartet except different vocals and Hi Red Center isn’t quite as spastic. Thus it comes down to this comparison of West Coast and East Coast (Hi Red Center is from NYC) quirkiness. While I respect their attempt at artistry, the interest in listening to bands like this on a frequent basis might require pretty tight jeans and a better haircut on my part.
–kurt (Joyful Noise)