On the cover of the Humms’ “Don’t Think About Death” 45, singer Zeke Sayer grins like a giant pale-faced mestophalian spider, death in a black hoodie, with a cigarette for a scythe. Don’t think—just listen as you follow him to a monster mash in the deep south where some ghoul has spiked the punch with mescaline. This 7”, with tracks off their 2010 Lemonland album, showcases the Humms’ signature haunting surf-rock style. Like a zombie shredding a tasty wave, the tracks “Don’t Think About Death” and “Buttermilk” are a little scary and a lot of fun.
The title track opens with a catchy yet contemplative surf riff that runs throughout the song and sounds as if it were being transmitted from the Other Side through some haunted transistor radio and accompanied by a head-nodding drumbeat. On “Buttermilk,” lyrics warn you of your own imminent filicide, while an accordion eerily warbles in the background, eventually finishing out the track alone like a specter chasing you through a long dark hallway. With a title that recalls the Ramones, inviting a comparison between Uncle Sam and the Klan, the third and final track, “Uncle Sam Took My Baby Away” is done in the style of a Southern spiritual and laments for a lover gone off to serve, a relevant sentiment in any war-time period and all the more so today. It’s simple and effective, and upbeat enough that you’ll want to sing along, and probably dance too.
“Recorded, produced, and lovingly hand-packaged by fire-breathing frontman Zeke Sayer, The Humms’ debut LP is an 18-track behemoth of psych-rock energy. The raw garage psycho-billy numbers that dominate their live shows are all here. The shotgun blast opener “Blood Sucking Vampire” establishes the band’s signature, sinister tone, and that tone lingers throughout like the stench of reanimated flesh, from the zombified swing dance “Buttermilk,” to the satanic surf of “Brown Haired Devil.” In between these well-traveled live staples, however, the band shows off surprising versatility and a rarely seen softer side.
Southern gothic-flavored acoustic numbers like “Uncle Sam Took My Baby Away” bring their spooky sensibility to traditional country, while the eerie, doowop-tinged “Strawberry Glue” sounds like it’s drifting straight up from the malt shop jukebox in hell. For a band that specializes in ghoulish shocks, the most shocking thing about this album may be the presence of the truly touching “Talking to a Ghost.” Without abandoning his commitment to spirit world imagery, Sayer offers lines like “we’ll stay and haunt this haunted house/ watch cable from the old wood couch/ pack smokes from your tobacco pouch/ at least I finally found myself” with a gentle whisper and a heartfelt sincerity. All of this diversity makes The Humms’ first album something of a mixed Halloween bag, full of a few tricks, a lot of treats, and not one lemon in the bunch. Presumably, when life gave The Humms lemons, they made Lemonland.”