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HUM (Buy CDs by this artist)
Fillet Show (12 Inch/Cargo) 1991
Electra 2000 (12 Inch/Cargo) 1993
You'd Prefer an Astronaut (RCA) 1995
Downward Is Heavenward (RCA) 1998
Smiles Everybody (Mud) 1993

You don't need to send for Sherlock Holmes to discern the resemblance between the sound of Hum and the overpowering buzz-pop of the Poster Children. The bands come from the same town (Champaign, Illinois), Hum bassist Jeff Dimpsey played guitar on the Poster Children's Daisy Chain Reaction; they've toured together; Hum's first two albums were released on the Kids' indie label.

Dimpsey (who also plays in Honcho Overload — a more straight-rock band that includes Hum singer/guitarist Matt Talbott and had their album produced by power-popper Adam Schmitt) wasn't in the lineup that made Fillet Show, but he joined in time for the second album, as did guitarist Tim Lash, finalizing a quartet with drummer Bryan St. Pere. Produced in Chicago by Brad Wood, Electra 2000 is bracingly loud but generically obvious in its attack: simple melodies kicked along with a brisk backbeat and covered in sizzling sensual guitar aggression. Turning down does wonders for "Double Dip," but the inoffensive Hum is really just one of a hundred bands that want to be the next Superchunk. (For the obligatory incongruous exception, the unlisted bonus track, which follows "Winder," is a jaunty if endless organ instrumental.)

A couple of items on You'd Prefer an Astronaut cut the speed in half and double the distortion, thereby shifting archetypes towards a mid-Atlantic Dinosaur Jr. The rest redefine the group's basic sound with greater dynamic variety, spaciousness and understatement, as well as much-improved songwriting. Too much quiet doesn't suit the group, either (see "Why I Like the Robins," "I Hate It Too" and the Schmitt-produced "The Very Old Man"), but "Stars" and "Suicide Machine" make excellent use of noise's allure, and "I'd Like Your Hair Long" is a roaring tune that works. More misses than hits, but a step in the right direction.

[Ira Robbins]
   See also Poster Children