Hopscotch 2018: Lomelda’s Hannah Read Offers a Tender Treatise of Gratitude for Those Closest to Her with Thx | Music Essay | Indy Week
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Hopscotch 2018: Lomelda’s Hannah Read Offers a Tender Treatise of Gratitude for Those Closest to Her with Thx 

Lomelda's Hannah Read

Photo by Adan Carlo

Lomelda's Hannah Read

For Hannah Read, growing up in Silsbee, Texas—a town of fewer than 7,000 people—was no more exceptional than most people's childhoods.

"Just the same old shtick," Read says. "You play Mario Kart, you try to be in a band, you play open mic nights. It wasn't extremely remarkable in any certain way."

Nestled at the intersection of U.S. Highway 96 and State Highway 327, Read has spent a considerable amount of time traveling the lonely roads between Silsbee and the closest surrounding cities. Speaking over the phone, Read noted that she was en route to Norman, Oklahoma for night one of Lomelda's tour.

"It always kind of feels like a new start," Read says. "This tour, day one is with a newly configured band, so that's a new start. We're playing old songs a little differently, just based on what we can do together. That's just kind of the way I want to always engage with music, and with life really. It's treating the days and experiences and people as a start."

Despite these sentiments of renewal, a sense of familiarity and intimacy lingers with Read's music. The moniker itself dates back to her high school years, but has taken on various physical and ideological forms since then. But with her airy, acoustic-tinged songs, Read ultimately aims to foster interpersonal connections and lament the tragedies of distance, both of which shine on Lomelda's 2017 album, Thx.

Written during a period when Read felt as though she was mostly living out of her car, Thx delicately intertwines verbose melodies and explicit lyricism, exhibited on album opener "Interstate Vision," as Read croons "Interstates are not what I want; headlights scare me into visions." Stark instrumentation and Read's overdubbed harmonies add to the record's overwhelming sense of manic isolation, but these elements are precisely the reason that Lomelda swiftly transforms first-time listeners from acquaintances to timeworn confidants. At times, Read's intimate songwriting makes Thx feel like cozying up with a friend over coffee—such as on "Mostly M.E.," when Read recounts a trip to the coast: "Through the backseat window/The evergreen shadows reminded me of home/Now they remind me of us sitting close."

Thx began as a collection of Bandcamp demos that Read rounded up for family and close friends to hear. Read listed the songs under the artist name "Thx" rather than Lomelda at first, and the collection served as a letter of affection and gratitude for the support that small group had given throughout her music career. But Read had caught the attention of Brooklyn indie label Double Double Whammy, which eventually issued Thx in its final form last September.

"I feel very connected to the arts that they release, so that's cool," Read says. "That feels encouraging to be a part of something that supports art that I really admire. The internet is vast, but there are also pathways that are wormholes to the spots you need to be. This is a Bandcamp love story."

In addition to Double Double Whammy's backing, Read worked closely alongside her brother, Tommy Read, who leads the band Hijo del Rio, to co-produce Thx. Following the songs' overarching themes of growth and displacement, the siblings took to various houses and rooms to record as their parents moved during the process.

"That was pretty special," Read says. "There's no way it would feel and sound the way that it does in any other circumstances, which is cool. I feel lucky that we ended up with something that we like a lot."

While Read was responsible for tracking the bulk of the album (overdubbed vocals, guitar, piano, bass), her brother played a pivotal role in the development of her favorite track on the record, "Bam Sha Klam"—titled after a Home Run Derby-style game that the siblings thought they had invented.

"My brother wrote that song, and I sort of stole it and changed it a little bit," Read says.

"That one's pretty special to me because of the whole process of making the record together, and then getting to attach myself to a song that he wrote."

"Bam Sha Klam" is derived almost directly from Hijo del Rio's "Here on Out," which appears on 2013's Waco Demos. For her own song, Read fleshed out the instrumentation, adding layers of electric guitars, bass, and drums—as well as an ambient outro accented by humming synth and reverb vocals.

Despite only being the second track, "Bam Sha Klam" marks the first of Thx's numerous emotional peaks. "Why are you laughing? Listen here: this is serious," Read abruptly addresses the listener, before launching into a heart-wrenching belt. The song then softly fades into "From Here," a tactful reminder that beauty and strength often lie in fragility.

Thx is equal parts painful and comfortable, akin to the nervous yet inviting energy of Read herself. From losing countless baseballs over the fence in the neighbor's yard while playing Bam Sha Klam, to pleading with a friend on the phone while miles away in Brooklyn, Thx is the contented culmination of family ties, childhood memories, and relationships fragmented by distance. Read's vocals are persistently arresting throughout the album, drawing a wide audience into the project originally intended for roughly a dozen people.

"The point of it, in that instance, was just that I felt that I wanted to make music and share it," Read says. "And overwhelmingly, more than anything, I felt thankful that I got to express myself in that way and have this small group appreciate it. When I started finishing up the album, that sort of feeling circled back and I couldn't imagine titling it anything else. There's a lot of different emotions expressed in the songs, but the overwhelming thing I wanted to say was thanks."

music@indyweek.com

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