Becoming Hers


There is an exquisite pain that attends the process of becoming — like a balancing act, emotions teeter in delicate equilibrium, strung out on the wire of what was, what is and what might be. Emergence into one’s self is beautiful, but forever fraught with collapse and nullity. Such is the raw, tense vibrancy that buzzes through the music of Hers, a new Portland band that raises a trembling fist against the lonely wages of independence.

“I can hold it together for you, even though it’s hard for me to,” vocalist Melissa L. Amstutz sings on “Hold It Together,” her voice as intimate and defiant as a terminal plea for more time. The song builds with music-box simplicity, all plucked chords and tingling bells and keys, until the bass drum begins thumping; Amstutz’s vocals grow yet more urgent as the music crescendos into the roar of a jet engine fighting turbulence. This is the sound of Hers, which combines the buzz and roar of My Bloody Valentine with the haunted fragility of Kristin Hersh.

With an album, Youth Revisited, due out next month, Hers’ existing output is limited — though what’s to be found now on the band’s Facebook page is promising. Songs like “Count On It” and “Train” reveal an implosive energy, deriving in part from the tight, economic interplay of this four-piece (which also includes Rachel Tomlinson Dick, Cody Peterson and Ellen Wilde) as well as from the pared-down emotionalism of Amstutz’s songwriting, which moves ever inward on a journey of pained self-discovery. It’s strong stuff, full of atmospheric disturbances that break suddenly into storms of feeling.

Hers play with Hands Like Sticks and Curtin 8:30 pm Sunday, May 11, at Sam Bond’s; $6.