Hem Funnel Cloud

Funnel Cloud’s sprawling 14 tracks live in the drowsy, introspective twilight at the end of a long hot summer afternoon. The fourth full-length release from Brooklyn-based folk pop quartet Hem does its best to defy genre categorisation, frequently teetering farther towards the rock end of the spectrum than their previous efforts. But Hem’s light touch and deft arrangements ensure that no matter which direction their music wanders, it retains both its quietly rapturous quality and its universal appeal. Even when joined by a 21-piece orchestra, Hem’s melodies remain laidback and understated. And whether backed by languid guitar and piano lines or the full band, the welcoming note in Sally Ellyson’s clear vocals outweighs an admittedly affecting hint of melancholy. From twangers such as "He Came to Meet Me” and the spirited "The Pills Stopped Working” (featuring guest vocals by ex-Smashing Pumpkin James Iha and vocalist Amy Helm) to the simply lovely "Reservoir,” this one boasts sheer gorgeousness all around. (Nettwerk)