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the evolution of hot flash heat wave

Hot Flash Heat Wave has been a staple band in the indie rock scene since they started putting music out in 2015. The music matches where they’re from–there’s this specific San Francisco house show sound that is hard to replicate if you’re not from the area. This edge helped Hot Flash Heat Wave grow their fan base really quickly over the past five years, coupled with the fact they put on some of the most fun shows I’ve ever been to. It makes sense that there has been so much excitement around the release of their new single. This band has been taking listeners on a little bit of a journey over the past two years with their ever-changing sound and it’s all culminated in this most recent single “Grudge,” bringing us something new and exciting that we’ve never heard before from the group. 

When Hot Flash Heat Wave released their first album Neopolitan back in 2015, it was easy to classify as conventional indie rock, with moody, sing-songy lyrics and instrumentals that you could easily bop around to at a house show. What really made Hot Flash Heat Wave stand out was this kind of retro rock sound in their vocals that reminds me of The Shangri-Las because the tracks are upbeat but still about heavy topics. The next album Soaked in 2017 got a little more funky, especially in the rhythm section. We start to see this shift away from indie rock into more psychedelic, dream pop rock. Although it’s a subtle change in Soaked, it’s a noticeable change in the band’s songwriting. 

The singles off the Mood Ring EP in 2019 was a heavy deep dive into the realm of psychedelic rock, with tracks like “Glo Ride,” “Sky So Blue” and their cover of “This Night Has Opened My Eyes” as some examples. There is a heavy use of synthesizers and less of a reliance on the traditional guitar sound. There are some gentle R&B influences created by the band’s new use of a range of keyboard sounds. They also started to do some pretty interesting vocal manipulations with effects to create a trippy, spacey sound.

And that brings us up to the present day with the release of Hot Flash Heat Wave’s latest single “Grudge” earlier this September. This single is the perfect marriage between the early years of Hot Flash Heat Wave and their new psychedelic sound we’ve come to love these past two years. They are bringing back that indie rock guitar sound we were missing in the last few singles making “Grudge” a funky sing-a-long song. I see a huge Flaming Lips influence on this track. Like The Flaming Lips, Hot Flash Heat Wave has gotten really good at creating these incredible soundscapes that make an entire world and feeling for the listener. This new style we’re seeing from Hot Flash Heat Wave isn’t something we’ve seen a lot of, so it’s really exciting to see what they’ll do next. One thing is for sure though, this is a band with a constantly evolving sound, so who knows what the next couple of releases will sound like. If they keep up this trajectory, I’m excited to listen. 

Check out “Grudge” here:

Photo By Rachel Frichette

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