It still seems odd when a U.S. group makes their debut on a British label. Sure, American musicians since Jimi Hendrix have traveled to England in search of a record deal. But musicians no longer have to jump the Atlantic to make a U.K connection. There are several international music venues like Austin's SXSW and the MIDEM Music Festival in Cannes where talent gets signed. And like everything else globalization has taken over with U.K. labels searching the states for acts.
Kicking around Gainesville, FL, in the late '90s, guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Adrian Barrera and drummer Todd Galpin were in a group called The Young Americans. But when their favorite Gainesville performing venue was converted into a sports bar Barrera and Galpin decided to re-locate to Atlanta where there was a more vibrant music scene - or at least one that was less likely to be displaced by sports.
Soon though, The Young Americans were gone with Barrera and Galpin forming an eight piece Hip-Hop influenced thing called Centipede. That didn't last either so the pair went back to the basics and partnered with guitarist Ian Franco. The group was further augmented by the addition of bassist Mahjula Bah-Kamara, who was later replaced by Johnny Kral.
By '01, Hiss had developed a major local reputation which inevitably brought them to the attention of several labels. They descended on the group but Hiss decided to cast their lot with a new British imprint, Loog. The label flew Hiss to England where they recorded "Panic Movement" and they went on the NME Rock 'N Riot Tour with Jet. A brief U.S. tour followed in '03. A few months later (3/04), "Panic Movement" was released in the states.
2003 Panic Movement
2007 Chocolate Hearts
A low rent comedian once told his small but faithful audience about his numerous speeding tickets concluding, "All I ever really wanted to do was just out run my demons." In many ways Hiss shares that same desire. Having survived "scrapes and sticky situations" (a line from "Clever Kicks") and knowing what comes next ("I've got a taste of what is to come"), Barrera's lyrics have a film noir, haunted and hallucinogenic quality to them. It's all there but it's not quite what it appears.
Hiss plays solid neo-Punk guitar Rock. On "Panic Movement" they keep it simple and direct. Album opener "Clever Kicks" emerges from Punk distortion and sets an aggressive, unyielding tone with a machine-gun guitar. "Back On The Radio" shifts through power chords before landing on a catchy riff. Here, and throughout the CD, Hiss masterfully muscles through songs indicating why they were a much sought after group. The record industry slamming "Not For Hire," "Lord's Prayer," with another killer riff, and screaming, demon confronting Rocker "Brass Tracks" are among the standouts.