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Album Review

Arriving a little over a year and a half after His Name Is Alive's long-awaited comeback Detrola, Xmmer follows in that album's footsteps — in fact, "Go to Hell Mountain" is a sequel to Detrola's "I Thought I Saw You Moving." Once again, it sounds like all of the band's previous albums rolled into one, although a die-hard fan could get really geeky and say that more of Ft. Lake, Mouth by Mouth, and Home Is in Your Head's influences stand out this time. The biggest difference is that sometime His Name Is Alive singer Lovetta Pippen doesn't make an appearance; while she is missed, Xmmer is still a shining example of the group's singular pop. His Name Is Alive is probably the only band who could write a song about foreign soldiers invading a house and killing its occupants and have it come out sounding like "Youngblood," all shimmering strings, delicately plucked and strummed acoustic guitars, and deceptively angelic vocals. "The Wolf Put His Mouth on Me" mixes the electronic pulse that made Detrola so exciting with a jagged, bluesy acoustic guitar, chugging rock, and kalimbas and other African touches that feel as much like a nod to Warn Defever's work with NOMO as they do a tribute to Frances Bebey. On paper, it sounds like far too much to put in one song, but in His Name Is Alive's hands, it sounds natural. The Afro-pop influence fits in with the band's sound as easily as their gamelan experiments did in the past, especially on "Come to Me," which bolsters the song's dreamy vocals with brash brass and more of those kalimbas. Elsewhere, "Oh Miss Flower"'s exotic folk-pop, "Put It in Your Mind"'s slow-burning rock, and "Sangaree"'s tense rhythms prove once again just how effortless Defever and crew make their genre-hopping seem — and more to the point, it never feels like dabbling. Xmmer might be His Name Is Alive's most overtly topical album: the riveting "What Color Was the Blood," with its martial drumbeat and lyrics that could be from an ancient battle song or only slightly less ancient folk protest song, sounds like some kind of war being waged; meanwhile, "Come Out the Wilderness" is a singalong for peace that's too urgent to be sung while sitting around a campfire. And as always, the band finds unique but clear-eyed ways of examining the more difficult side of love, whether it's unrequited ("When You Fall for Someone") or mysterious ("How Dark Is Your Dark Side"). Even if Xmmer's kaleidoscopic approach is similar to what His Name Is Alive has done before, that doesn't make it any less appealing or unique on its own terms.

Customer Reviews

Long overdue album getting back to roots

First of all, iTunes has misspelled the title of this album. XMMER is a contrast to previous albums by Warren DeFever in this decade alone. His stylings have traversed throughout the Lovetta Pippin years and he has seemed to find his way back to the bands original undertaking. Andy FM, cousin to earlier H.N.I.A. singer Karin Oliver, provides soothing vocals as well as a new sound (in an old bag of tricks). Inspiring, mesmerizing, and at times brilliant, this listen was well worth the wait. Furthermore, I anxiously await the next turntable of events from the guy in Livonia, MI. Great stuff!!

Buy it now!

Purchase this album immediately. You will not regret buying the best album of 2007! I've been a huge fan since their first album Livonia, back in the early 90's. With every release I'm blow away by HNIA's creative genius - they manage to surprise and inspire each time. It is a clear progression from their last album, Detrola. Thanks HNIA! But iTunes, you need to get the name of the album correct: it's "Xmmer"! I couldn't find it on my first search.


this is an excellent album and hey, i don't want to be a jerk, but it's actually called XMMER. i was totally having trouble getting the album artwork and itunes and LO AND BEHOLD, it's because the album is mislabeled. anyway, i am loving andy fm, she's improved much since RAINDROPS, RAINBOWS and carries on the "experimental pop + ethnomusicology + smokin' indie starlet" formula swimmingly. XMMER is also a remarkably cohesive, accessible album and is a great introduction to HNIA's 4AD sound.


Formed: 1989 in Livonia, MI

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Named after history class notes on Abraham Lincoln, the Livonia, Michigan-based sonic manipulators His Name Is Alive formed when multi-instrumentalist/producer Warren Defever (also of shockabilly group Elvis Hitler) was still in high school. Defever, former schoolmate Karin Oliver (vocals), and drummer Damian Lang released self-produced cassettes of their music, one of which made its way to Ivo Watts-Russell, founder of the pioneering...
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XXMER, His Name Is Alive
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Customer Ratings