In 2009, there emerged a band from Portland, Oregon by the (awesome) name of Explode into Colors. They were hailed as gods, truly innovative post-punk masters; tribal, mysterious, and dance inducing all at once. They released three killer 7" on three killer labels, all crystallizing the fact that the band had their ascetic and sound down to a tee. Then, as quickly as they had appeared, the band broke up and the world lost a great band. However, it is my belief that Explode into Color secretly have been reborn in England, or at least their soul has been transferred over to Halo Halo.
It's outstanding the similarities between the two bands, but that's what makes it so great. Halo Halo are more angular then Explode into Color ever were, but that's probably because Explode into Color never used a bassist or banjo. That's right Halo Halo have a banjo in the band, and it's awesome. In fact, the banjo playing not only defines the band, but works wonders in giving the band a very sharp and distinctive sound. "Manananggal" is all tense and subbed post punk, with an off kilter call-and-response that works so well. As well it should, as the lyrics, as distant as they seem, recount something sinister; that of an oppression or kidnapping. "Sunshine Kim" is the flip side of what the band can be, hyper, ricocheting energy over bits of atmosphere. With a "ticking" in the background that gives an added sense of urgency to the track, you can easily picture the band jumping around stage performing the song, getting everyone in the crowd to hop awkwardly to the drum thumps and sharp banjo notes.
Halo Halo have with this single managed to reach this intersection between '70s UK D.I.Y. and American post punk, that is outstanding. The fact that this only their debut is just astonishing. One listen is all that it takes to get lost into the memorizing vortex the band creates, one filled with post-tribal post-punk and underlying eeriness and tension.
Halo Halo's Facebook
Pre-order "Manananggal b/w Sunshine Kim" here, from M'Lady's Records