Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Brett Adams
Every house has a different entrance to its attic. Mine slides to the side, into the floor, dispersing grains of grime, with a ladder sliding down. Most of the time, no one ever goes up there. We know there's a top crown to all houses, but there's no need to go visit it unless you need to blow some more insulation into the walls or you begin to hear the tiny paw work of mice above your head and you just have to lay some traps to get rid of the vermin. There's just the rectangular door there in the ceiling and it remains there, infrequently opened but for curiosity sake and maybe storage reasons. What we're getting at, or bringing into this essay about the garage-rocking Los Angeles band Happy Hollows isn't so much the hot and dusty emptiness of the attic, but more the unknowable occupants of these attics that we're thinking about. We're also bringing into this discussion, the part at the beginning of the opening credits for "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?" when a flock of bats enters the picture - thick and squeaking - because we're picturing our attic full of those flying rats, ready to swoop out of that opening in your ceiling, were you ever to approach your attic. You'd be bombarded and you'd be knocked from the ladder, hitting your head on the wall on the way down, knocking the cobwebs not out, but into your head. There are skeletons up there and scary old shit that you want no part of. It's this kind of imaginative and creepy sensation - almost of odd, concocted paralysis, of what could possibly be up there - that the Happy Hollows and lead singer Sarah Negahdari bring into their music. They make songs that are filled with bats - swarms and swarms of them - and if they aren't real bats, they're figurative ones that should still be worried about, ones that will still make you a little squeamish and leap back, for the fear of the rabies they might have coursing through them gives you chills. Negahdari is affecting as a spinster of the Karen O sort, singing and emoting with high pitches that come out as minor outbursts, as well as more melodic touches that are the reassuring pets of the head to calm us down and encourage us not to worry about those damned, beady-eyed bats so much. The music is flavored with a mustiness of old basements and the hidden dust of attics, working fast and eerily and you can almost feel the whapping of wings gracing your neck and causing the stood up hairs on your head to rustle just a little.