HR – Hey Wella

  • Sierra Christman posted
  • Reviews


Hey Wella - DC Hardcore Records

When H.R. set out to make Hey Wella, his latest solo EP, he clearly endeavored to distance himself from the early hardcore sounds characteristic of Bad Brains. From the first track to the last, the album takes on a chameleon-like presence and shifts from the punk stylings of “Did I Tell U I Love U” that is vaguely reminiscent of Iggy Pop to mellower tracks “Luv Comes First” and “We Belong Together” that feature a heavy reggae influence.

The schizophrenic sounds of the album waver between H.R.’s Rastafarian roots, his penchant for artistic experimentation, and his earlier contributions to the punk and hardcore scenes. Though Hey Welladoesn’t necessarily fit as the type of CD you would typically rock out to in one sitting (unlike the Bad Brains predecessors), it best exemplifies the mish-mash of sounds that proved to be the building blocks for future subgenres of music. Lending additional talent on guitar and drums is Grant “OG” Garretson, who really helps ground the expressive vocals. Additional production credit goes to multiple Grammy winner, David Darlington. Punk has come a long way indeed when Grammy winning producers are lining up to contribute to such a project.

As a huge Bad Brains fan, it was difficult for me to listen to this album objectively, but I can admit that while I appreciate H.R.’s artistic experimentation, I do still yearn for the days of “Banned in D.C.” and “Right Brigade”, when H.R.’s brand of hardcore punk was unequaled by peers and nearly untouchable. With that said, few punk bands today have done justice to the initial raw and gritty sound of bands like Bad Brains, so in respect the scene has adapted to newer times. Hey Wella is not, of course, that same Bad Brains product, but H.R.’s deviation from the path that more marketable punk has taken. In that sense, H.R. has again proven himself a musician ahead of the curve. The tracks are definitely not mainstream, but worth more as pieces of art that bands will no doubt be relying on in coming months and years.

While there are elements of the beloved hardcore roots, this album does a better job of representing a newer take on the music and styles that inspired primordial punk and hardcore. Whether you’re into Bad Brains, H.R.’s other solo work, punk, reggae, hardcore, or all of the above, Hey Wella is an excellent snapshot of the art and history of underground, and would make a great addition to any album collection.