Since forming in 2014, New Jersey’s Hodera have refined an interdisciplinary palette of sounds that balance the grit of heartland rock with the expanse of indie-rock. 2017’s First Things First, while not a debut as the title suggests, threaded misty-eyed nostalgia throughout a patchwork of loss, love, and lingering doubt. And while Besides is an appendix to the same anguish and anxiety, the surrounding backdrops have grown sharper, their boundaries at once more defined and more limitless.
As with previous material, Besides tackles the complications of love, be it in the tender machinations of reaching out to a struggling friend on “Hey Ana”—previously released as a benefit for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention—or the lovesick aftermath of “For the Best” and “If You Want Me To” opening the EP. At the same time, vocalist/guitarist Matthew Smith and his cohorts explore their pastoral surroundings, meditating on browning grass on “Kicking the Dirt” and the great beyond on closer “For Heaven’s Sake.” These dueling thematic elements are both delivered with a millennial bent, peppering in details about emails and bar crawls between rootsy instrumental phrases. It’s the odd coupling of alt-country and alt-rock that might be Hodera’s most mesmerizing quality, but the lasting reflection of their character sketches promise an intriguing, refreshing spin on well-worn sounds.