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Hem

The genesis of the New York-based folk outfit Hem goes back to 1999, when songwriter Dan Messe teamed up with producer/engineer Gary Maurer (who had worked with artists such as Jon Spencer, Luna, Fountains of Wayne, and James Iha). The two wanted to make a record that would explore their interests in traditional American music while draping it in contemporary stylings. They enlisted friend Steve Curtis (guitar, mandolin) and, needing a singer, placed an ad in The Village Voice. After receiving numerous demos that didn't suit their needs, the ad was pulled. Then Sally Ellyson called Messe about the spot, though she claimed that she wasn't really a singer.

Not expecting much, Messe asked for a demo. The tape, a cassette of lullabies she'd recorded for a friend's child, was exactly what Messe was looking for. The collaboration started out as a low-budget affair, but as the project grew and the bandmembers' faith in their work increased, Messe ended up selling off personal possessions in order to afford, for example, an 18-piece orchestra. The resulting album, 2001's Rabbit Songs, was recorded without any contemporary recording luxuries -- such as samples, computer mixing, or digital wizardry -- and focused instead on lush, traditional instrumentation and Ellyson's soothing vocals.

DreamWorks inked the band a deal in early 2003, and Rabbit Songs was reissued in July. Stateside club shows with Leona Naess followed. The group released a split EP, Birds, Beasts, & Flowers, with fellow chamber/country/pop collective the Autumn Defense in September 2004, with its second full-length, Eveningland, arriving the following month. No Word from Tom, a collection of covers, rarities, outtakes, demos, and live recordings, was released on Nettwerk in 2006. Hem continued releasing material at a prolific pace by issuing Funnel Cloud, the group's third studio album, that same year.

Three years later, the musicians founds themselves providing the soundtrack to a summer production of Twelfth Night. Held in Central Park and starring Anne Hathaway, Audra McDonald, and Raúl Esparza, the show required Hem to perform Irish instrumentals, original songs, and orchestral mood music. Cast members joined the band in the studio several months later to record an official album, which was released in October 2009. Meanwhile, the band continued to work on its proper follow-up to Funnel Cloud. Though 2009's Twelfth Night was issued under their name, it was essentially a traditional Celtic record performed by a cast of movie stars and Shakespearean actors, with Hem serving as the backup band. After an extended time away from one another, the bandmembers resumed working together in a studio in 2012. In the spring of 2013, they re-emerged with a proper new album entitled Departure and Farewell on Nettwerk. ~ Erik Hage, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Love you cielo. Good night . Te extrano con todo mi corazon alma y mentir
so quality and raw
If you haven't acquired Departure & Farewell...Y o u need to. Look for them in a local concert. Saw them in Virginia - The Best.
On a different level of being. COOL.
ccoc0
such a beautiful sound. love the clarinet :)
legis225
They need to record a new album.
I remember when Rabbit Songs came out. Saw them in concert shortly after--they were brilliant. Music that soothes the soul.
ilunga.mpoyo
I wish that I could open the radio and listen to beautiful music like this all the time.
mcgonjl
Great voice.
willowtree_7 7 7
Like this band a lot. Wish they were more well known.
Love HEM?? try EASTMOUNTAIN S O U T H :o)
Hem is one sweet sound.
ilunga.mpoyo
First heard their song Half Acre on a commercial for a particular bank year back and I was intrigued by the song and tried to find out more about the band. They are amazing!
I hadn't heard of them before Pandora either. I like it. Score one for the MGP.
Wow I had never heard of them until today !! What a great discovery.
clivingston3 1 6
I've been listening to Hem for about a year now...great stuff! I especially like "It's not California" and "The Reservoir"
veeevers
WOnderful music....... y o u got my attention on this one.....I will look and listen further..... . .
melissa.gate s 2
Wow! They are fantastic! Thank you, Pandora!
A diamond in the rough
rbmeek
Thank you. I've missed them somehow. Wonderful
jsanford99
love it!
This marriage of country and contemporary kind reminds me of "Wreckin Ball"
as sung by Emmylou Harris and produced by Daniel Lanois.
Just lovely. Laid back, but emotional too. Complex music and a singer who's got a beautiful, interesting voice. Glad Pandora thought I'd like them, 'cause I do!
I love them! Great vocals!
Incredible! More! More!
info3974
I fell in love with these guys after seeing them perform in Shakespeare in the Park's Twelfth Night. Anne Hathaway was great, but I think HEM made the show incredible.
How come there's only three pages of comment for this band?! Their music is beautiful, and everyone should at least hear their music once!
mgm.arts
oh my goodness. how did i live with ears before hem?
I got hooked on these guys after hearing 30 seconds of "Half Acre" on a Liberty Mutual commercial. :)
love them!!! seriously awesome cover of Fountains of Wayne's "Radiation Vibe". sweet, melodic voice too.
After listening to Hem for about seven years, I am still wondering how they mix together such disparate elements. Elegantly understated, they incorporate musical elements that are redolent of rural America with great urban sophisticati o n . The musical interludes on "Rabbit Songs" have elements that I would love to see expanded to symphonic length. Lushly spare, optimistical l y despairing, they always win my heart.

Thanks to Niki Dakota on WYSO's "Excursions" for the introduction !
themonkeycag e
How do you describe this band? You can't compare their music with anyone, because nobody else plays like this. The only comparison I could make is with the southern gothic countryside, the beauty you see & smell on a spring afternoon, lying in the grass beside a vine full of honeysuckles , fragile clouds in the blue sky, and a beautifully ramshackle tattered barn on the horizon. If you could play that feeling as a song, it would sound like Hem.
THEY. ARE. WICKED. AWSOME!!!:) *They're very unique!*
Stumbled upon these folks while listening to my Mazzy Star Radio station. "Rabbit Songs" is a terrific album. The 7 or so minutes that make up tracks 2 and 3 (When I was Drinking and Half Acre) are, well, near perfect. Hell, there isn't a clunker on the album. Highly recommended!
mcgonjl
A great new find for me.
They are the only contemporary band I listen to, and in one of their albums there is enough material to span twenty-such other bands. They are, quite possibly, the most beautifully intimate, emotional bands I've ever heard.
Her voice wraps me around like a warm t-shirt. Honest, without pretension and enchanting - in the strictist sense of the word. And the gentlemen, they support her and one another with justice done to their instruments and their soulfully chosen music. I'm on my porch in Georgia now, they rain is gently beating on the roof and running delicately off the gutters. I'm listening to Hem and thoroughly taken away...
Great exposure from the TV commercial for insurance, I think.
julester09
love them!!!!

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