Waitin’ is the first single from The Hypochondriacs’ long-awaited, sophomore album due out later this month.
There is this thing that can happen within a music scene as tightly knit as many of those found throughout the Maritimes. A direct result of small communities, even smaller music scenes, and a handful of hyper talented musicians within each looking to collaborate and make as much music as they can; it seems almost inevitable that sooner or later they will all end up in the same jam space writing and rehearsing together, drawn to one another as if by some unknown gravitational pull.
That’s basically the story behind The Hypochondriacs. After releasing a few singles and an EP under his own name, singer songwriter Josh Bravener started putting a band together. It wasn’t long before Josh Bravener and the Hypochondriacs, a four-piece oozing with energy and onstage charisma unlike any other new Fredericton band in recent memory, began turning heads. And it wasn’t just audiences tuning in. Other musicians were too. The tinder – the perfect trifecta that is Bravener’s voice, song writing and onstage delivery – found its initial spark in drummer Aaron Bravener and vocalist/multi-instrumental dynamo Kelly Waterhouse. It wasn’t long before Josh Bravener and the Hypochondriacs became simply, The Hypochondriacs. Or the Hypos, for short. There was too much happening, too many contributing talents to exist within the narrow confines of Artist and Their Backing Band.
The Hypochondriacs entered the studio in 2016 to record their debut album, The Hypochondriacs in 3/4. By that point, The Hypos were a five and sometimes six-piece ensemble reaching far beyond the old-time country/rockabilly foundation that started it all off. There was rock and doo-wop, mixed with touches of soul and swing, constantly pushing the sound to become something bigger and broader and harder to describe in a single sentence. The Hypos had become their own thing.
Following its release in 2017, The Hypochondriacs in 3/4 steamrolled the provincial music awards picking up 2018 Music NB honours for Album of the Year, SOCAN Song of the Year, Emerging Artist of the Year and Country Artist of the Year, as well as an East Coast Music Award nomination for Country Recording of the Year.
In the five years since the release of their debut, the band has continued to move from strength to strength. A few musicians stepped away and a few more stepped in, eagerly. The band has since played just about every major music festival in the Maritimes at least once. And under the current lineup of Josh Bravener (guitar and vocals), Jamie Guitar (bass), Kelly Waterhouse (sax and backing vocals), Jeannine Gallant (trombone and backing vocals), Connor Fox (guitar) and Andrew DeMerchant (drums), they have reached a level of regional notoriety, one that will see their music played and talked about for years to come, long after the band is just a memory. But, thankfully, they’re only getting started.
Last week, The Hypos released their first new single since their debut. Appropriately titled, Waitin’, was worth the wait. As is the case when any band follow up their debut with a new single, fans immediately listen to see how it compares to the previous release. If you’re at all familiar with The Hypochondriacs in 3/4, then you’re also familiar with the song, Last Night. A bit of an outlier on that record thanks to a strong doo-wop feel that easily conjures up images of a 1950’s high school dance, lettermen jackets and flared skirts.
The song and the arrangement are undeniable in their strength, but also no longer represent an outlier in terms of feel and direction. As Bravener sees it, Last Night was a tease of things to come. Waitin’ marks the arrival.
“I think the band’s growth has all been a natural evolution,” said Bravener. “We saw 3/4 as being a country record, but as soon as that record came out, we felt like we weren’t even a country band anymore.”
As he remembers it, Waitin’ was part of the band’s repertoire going back as far as the debut record.
“I think we actually played it at the album release show for 3/4,” said Bravener. “It’s been around for a long time and is a song that I felt really reflected the direction I wanted to go in with my writing. On the new album I can hear Elvis and 50’s rock and roll, George Harrison, The Grateful Dead. It’s all in there. That stuff’s so deep in The Hypos [sound] now. And we didn’t want to make a record that sounded like the last record.”
Bravener admits to still following the simple forms of country music when writing new songs. That’s how he’s always done it. But it’s where these ideas go in the practice space that define the collective ability of the group and the reimagined retro revivalism we’ve now come to know them by.
“That’s just how I write,” he said. “But when I take these songs to the band, Kelly and Jeannine and Conor all bring so much to the arrangement process that they’re usually able to take what I wrote and move it in a direction I might not have thought of, but completely love. They’re great for that. It’s like, ‘Here are the words and the melody. Let’s juice it up!’”
Waitin’, the second full length album by The Hypochondriacs will arrive on streaming platforms April 29, 2022.
Band photo by Kyle Albright