Music quite simply amazes me. Its uses can be so contradictory, sometimes riling us up and other times calming us down. In my own experience, one of music’s most important uses is soothing. Hem is a band that definitely serves that purpose. They fall somewhere in the genres of alt-country or folk-rock, which is a place where I feel right at home. In college I relied on soothing playlists to help me feel ready to fall asleep, and the playlists always included one or two Hem songs. I have my friend Jenny to thank for including “Not California” on a mix CD and setting me on the road to becoming a fan.
1. “We’ll Meet Along The Way”
“We’ll Meet Along The Way” opens their album Funnel Cloud, and it has always felt to me like an invocation. The song is simple (and brief), but it has all the Hem ingredients: subtle harmonies, wistful lyrics, and an overall sense of ease. The flow from verse to chorus to verse is utterly smooth. It’s part of what makes Hem the perfect soothing music.
2. “Stupid Mouth Shut”
Hem isn’t all about balladry. Okay, they mostly are, but sometimes they kick the metronome up to midtempo. “Stupid Mouth Shut” is just as smooth and easy, but more playful than many of their songs. I love the earnestness of the lyrics.
3. “Not California”
The song that started it all. “Not California” was written by one of the band members about his girlfriend’s obsession with The O.C., which undercuts the seriousness of the song in a lovely way. Despite its amusing source of inspiration, “Not California” packs an emotional punch. Look no further for epic balladry or lullaby playlist material.