Essential New Music: Hudson Bell’s “Yerba Buena”


Hudson Bell’s fifth album opens with a description of mundane hanging around (“Here comes a car/And there we are/Just waitin’ for the devil/And his kiss”) backed by a simple electric guitar line. Then a crashing full-band entry kicks the album into instantly recognizable crunchy indie-rock territory. Bell knows exactly the kind of Matthew Sweet/J Mascis vein he’s working: This is an album that sounds like it ought to be playing on a dashboard tape deck circa 1992. The LP is filled with well-crafted songs, and Hudson’s voice is nicely suited to the aesthetic. Yerba Buena’s title comes from a long-ago name for San Francisco, and the record’s blend of crackly instrumentation and introspective, sometimes deliberately goofy lyrics (check “Sex Day” for the best example of this impulse) reflects the city’s poetic and playful historical spirit.

—Eric Waggoner