Noisy Neighbors

The New Highway Hymnal, ‘Whispers’



It’s never easy to directly translate the experience of a band’s live show to record, particularly one with such a viscerally pulverizing grind of noise as Haverhill’s psych-punk act the New Highway Hymnal.

But there is a moment toward the end of the 8-minute album closer, “Hey Kid (Gotta Run),” from the young band’s debut full-length, where the loose structure of the song begins spinning out of its barely anchored foundation and off into alternating moments of quiet and harrowing catharsis, with vocalist Hadden Stemp shredding his vocal cords in shrieks of fury, that’s enough to transport you to the dingy confines of a sweating rock club on the precipice of perdition.


It’s a common feeling evoked by the nine tracks here, each more agitated and nervy than the next. Passages of reserved bass groove and mantra-like vocals of a desolate fever dream dissolve into musical horror: sandstorms of feedback, and noise like a plague of locusts. It’s a waking nightmare, but one you want to get on the guest list for. (Out now)

Luke O’Neil

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ESSENTIAL “Hey Kid (Gotta Run)”

The New Highway Hymnal performs as the Stooges at the Pill’s annual Halloween Show, Oct. 31, at Great Scott.