The Hugs
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The Hugs

Portland, Oregon, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2007 | SELF

Portland, Oregon, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2007
Band Pop Garage Rock




"If You Have Not Heard This Alt/Rock Band You are Not Living Your Best Life"

Once again, the magical atmosphere of the Pacific Northwest has given rise to stunning new music. This alternative rock band, with a twist of Brit-pop, will get your heart pumping and your mind happy. Aptly, the band is called: The Hugs.

The Portland trio has a youthful energy that will make you want to dance with them, all the while knowing they are empathetic to whatever level of sorrow you’d like to delve into. The band has opened for The Dandy Warhols, The Kooks and headlined a few shows of their own… and great news: they are on tour now.

Even better news: we have an exclusive premiere of one of their new songs here, about the way that our tenacious hearts still love even into the twilight of a broken relationship… prepare to be moved with true lyrics like “She’s running away faster than I can chase her, every single day I try to replace her”: - SCENES


A fuzzy black and white TV screen gives way to psychedelic-tinged visuals of a highbrow variety in the first few frames of The Hugs’ new music video “Mile High Lady,” but they’re not an odd nor abstract addition to this powerfully postmodern pop tune. In this video, and the single that it sources its soundtrack from, nothing is more important than the raw, visceral tonality being presented to us from The Hugs, who prove in this latest release that their brand of rollicking alternative rock is by no means a throwback to the jaded rumblings of a long-gone 90’s sound. They’re doing the Pacific Northwest music scene justice in “Mile High Lady,” and displaying a startling attention to detail that we could only hope to see out of some of their less-than-erudite peers.

The guitar is definitely the star of this single, but it doesn’t overshadow the contribution made by the vocal track in the slightest. All of the elements within these melodies are woven together tightly in the master mix, but none of the distinct tones in the composition become muddled in the sheer tour de force rendered by the band’s impassioned play. There’s a surreal edge to the harmony between the sultry serenade and the brittle bassline cushioning it, and to some extent, its textures add to the narrative within the lyrics just as much as those of the guitar, drums or vocals do. The Hugs want to engage us on every level in this song and its accompanying video, and to say that they pulled out all of the creative stops in doing so would be putting it very mildly.

With a pulsating percussion to frame the cathartic melody in the chorus, there’s really no need for a lot of overindulgent guitar play in “Mile High Lady,” and I like that the band didn’t deem it necessary to weigh down the song with a lot of unnecessary frills. Ultimately, I think that doing so would have really decreased the accessibility of this track as a single, and moreover, created a barrier between us and the streamlined hook that makes this song the banner release for The Hugs that it deserves to be. They’ve yet to disappoint us with any of their studio fodder, but “Mile High Lady” definitely raises the bar for this band moving forward.

Whether the supple sounds of Feelings of Life and Love Led You Here left you utterly spellbound by The Hugs’ depth of emotion and superior command of melodicism, or you’re just discovering their music for the first time with the video for “Mile High Lady,” this is one juggernaut of an alternative rock track that you’re going to want to give a spin this spring. As one of Portland’s premier power trios, The Hugs’ reputation in and out of their storied scene is one that demands respect from all who appreciate organic grooves and white hot harmonies, and they live up to all of the hype that they’ve garnered over the years perfectly in this latest release. Sublimely surreal and packing more of a sonic punch than most anything currently occupying the Billboard charts, I highly recommend giving “Mile High Lady” your attention this season.

John McCall - Too Much Love

"Indie-pop band the Hugs aren't rough enough for Portland, and they like it that way"

Over the past decade or so, the Hugs have carved out a niche in the Portland music scene as a DIY group with more polish than most indie-rock groups. In a place where roughness is celebrated, they "try to play as perfect as possible," says frontman Danny Delegato, so they've taken a fair bit of crap from snobby scenesters for being too polished and poised for commercial success.

"There was an article written about how we're the band hipsters love to hate," says Kauri Voss, the band's bassist. "There's a lot of shoegaze bands and the 'it's cool to be uncool' sort of stuff out here."

Some of the resentment may be tied up in the group's history. It seemed the sky was the limit when Delegato and a couple of his 18-year-old cohorts formed the Hugs and almost immediately created a buzz with their garage-rock, Britpop sound. They signed to vaunted label 1965 Records and reportedly entered the studio with White Stripes producer Liam Watson, but the 1965 debut never materialized and the buzz died. The Hugs kept going, though.

Some critics say that, over the years, the band became solely a vessel for Delegato's output as a singer-songwriter. But that changed when the band revamped its roster last November, adding guitarist Jack Burgess out of London, Voss from Chicago, and Detroit-based drummer Keagan O'Brien.

Speaking with Inlander by phone ahead of the Hugs' Saturday show at the Bartlett, the band says they've adopted a much more democratic approach to writing songs. To make the long-distance thing work, Delegato — the only remaining founding member — records demos and sends them to his bandmates, who come up with suggestions for changes and accompanying parts before they get in a studio together.

"I just try to write stuff that sounds good to me," he says. "It sounds really simple, but it seems to work. I just try to record with a certain style in mind, like I want to have a big pre-chorus or I try to write hooks that make sense, with verses and choruses that fit together in a song."

Everyone has to agree on which songs to play live, as well.

"I think it's very evident when you see a band and they're not into what they're playing," says Burgess. "If you want to keep that energy and enthusiasm about your songs, I think everybody in the band has to be on board with them."

Lately, everyone has been down to explore new sounds. The Hugs have sounded like a poppy four-piece rock band for its entire history, but they recently started messing around with synthesizers, drum machines and electronic programming thanks to their new drummer.

"I had a couple of beats when I first joined the band," O'Brien says. "One of the first demos I played for Danny, he just kind of latched onto it and wouldn't let it go. We started jamming around some of the hooks I had and then went back and wrote lyrics and really carved out what the songs would be."

The result is a new three-song EP, New Utopia, which includes the superb dream-pop track "Friends Can Break Your Heart." The EP is due for release on Valentine's Day.

"It's a big detour from what we normally do, which is like '90s garage-pop," Voss says.

"Now we're doing '90s garage-electronic," adds Delegato with a laugh.

They're still figuring out how to do justice to the new songs in the live setting, given the technical challenges of performing electronic-based music as a four-piece rock band. But that's more of a short-term concern, Delegato says. After the fun, experimental detour of New Utopia, the band is getting back down to business: This spring, the Hugs are headed into the studio to record the band's as-yet-untitled fifth full-length album.

"We just did this thing called the 20-song challenge, which was brutal," Voss says. "It's this exercise where you write 20 songs in 12 hours, and we got a lot of good bits and pieces out of that. Now we have two songs we could possibly look at again, and lots of little parts that sounded cool. We're going to lock ourselves in a room and hammer out the album thing this month."

Obviously, fans will have to wait and hear the new record, but one thing's for sure: It won't be rough around the edges. - Inlander

"The Kooks and The Hugs at the Roseland Theater on June 2, 2018"

Photo Gallery - Vortex Magazine

"Someone’s Certainly Putting Something in the Water in Portland"

With their swooshing swathes of rainbow rock, The Hugs are further proof that someone’s certainly putting something in the water in Portland, Oregon. Like The Lemonheads but with more primal yelping, the moment when their retro-referencing tunes seem to be veering too much in a pleasant, palatable garage-punk direction, their teeny weeny frontman Danny Delegato – the lovechild of Noel Fielding and one of The Monkees – lets go a grave-spinning, throat-slashing screech before indulging in some energetic and muscle-tearing mic-robatics. - NME (2008)


Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Fool”?
Yeah, this song has definitely been a labor of love. It was written as a rough demo way back in 2008 and we have had many different renditions so it’s really evolved naturally.
The song is in essence about the folly of still being in love after a breakup, from the initial longing to what turns into resentment and anger. - VENTS Magazine

"The Hugs – Friends Can Break Your Heart – Audio"

I can think of no more appropriate date than Valentines Day for the release of New Utopia as, akin to the name of the band, the audience needs to be listening to the middle track of the single – Friends Can Break Your Heart (available on bandcamp) – whilst hugging someone or something to fully immerse themselves in the flowing frequencies which cover the room in sweetly scented soft-pink rose petals.

Even given the song title and lyrical content Friends Can Break Your Heart is a composition that plucks at the heart-strings in the romance laden dreamscape. - Emerging Indie Bands


The Hugs stopped by Subculture last week, in between making awesome videos and releasing a new EP, to treat listeners to a couple of acoustic tunes and some huggable chit chat.

Their pop meets indie rock esthetic makes the Hugs a band to definitely watch. Talented and charming, we here at Portland Radio Project predict big things!!!

Kauri, Danny, Jack and Keagan are releasing their new EP, “New Utopia”, on Valentine’s Day – get your copy here. And make sure to catch them live at Doug Fir on April 26. - Portland Radio Project

"The Hugs Release "Friends Can Break Your Heart" Ahead of Their Upcoming EP "New Utopia""

Portland based pop band The Hugs' new single "Friends Can Break Your Heart" precedes their soon to be released 3 song EP "New Utopia" due to drop on Valentine's Day, February 14th. Besides chocolate and a teddy bear on Valentine's Day, buy your bae "New Utopia"; you can pre-order it on Bandcamp HERE. Also, be sure to follow the band on their social media to stay up to date on all things "The Hugs". - DOPECAUSEWESAID

"Your New Favorite Band?"

Under the floppy bangs and slouched teenage shoulders lies a group of kids on the cusp of something great. Much like the early forbearers of the jangly Brit-rock sound, the Hugs have a loose charm, a perfectly content sense of confidence that permeates throughout their sound, no matter how sloppy it might be at the time. Their music has the rough kinetic energy of Slanted and Enchanted-era Pavement, and the haphazard punk of (pre-crack and tabloids) the Libertines. - Portland Mercury

"[INTERVIEW] with...The Hugs"

The Hugs are not creatures of habit, not one bit. As far as their music is concerned, their approach to writing songs and being creative seems different to that of most other bands. They enjoy shaking things up a bit, it has got to be challenging, before it can get good.

The Portland Oregon based 4-piece has been letting It's All Indie into their creative space, sharing some fascinating insight into how they go about setting themselves concrete challenges and create a 'competitive' environment for writing new song material in but still produce some important work together. It remains a team effort...

...New Utopia leaves you hungry for more and it looks as if the band may well release a new album this year.

The Hugs are an extremely fascinating and talented band. To say it will be interesting to see what they get up to next would be a huge understatement, it won't be boring, that is for sure. - Its All Indie

"Portland Bands to Listen To"

Power-pop rockers, The Hugs, have been releasing music for your listening pleasure since 2007. With garage rock backed by high energy and angst, The Hugs will bring you on a journey through the early 2000's Pacific Northwest. Frontman Danny Delegato identifies their latest album as having a 'trippy psychedelic post-pop opus filled with anthemic beats and rich harmonies'. - Do503 (12/2016)

"The Hugs’ Aptly-Titled ‘Feelings of Life’ Realistically Reflects Mortality"

Sometimes a band puts out a release that just captures life in a snapshot – the highs, the lows, the anguish, the pain, and of course all the good stuff that makes life worth living. Feelings of Life is one such record. The Hugs wrap you with open welcome arms into their soundscape. The Hugs are on the record label Mope Records, and members Danny Delegato, Skyler Weaver, Davey Appaloosa, and Calvin Berkenbile are serving up their fourth (and debatably best) full-length studio album. This trippy psychedelic post-pop opus is filled with anthemic beats and rich harmonies.

This album takes you on a journey that is warm, a little exploratory, familiar, and full of great tunes. Much like life, Feelings of Life encompasses many of the feelings felt on this shared journey. "Wherever You Go" has such a great feel to it, with huge open chords and a charming wide-eyed wonder. "Want You Now" has that haunting urgency that plagues us all at some point or another. Its saturated riffs and moody hooks don't just hint at that 'want,' but blast that feeling right home in a way that more than satisfies. "Fearless" is a great track that has that attack of abandon and lust for life. Like life, this album has a few low points, namely "Beautiful Hour" and "Lost Angel," but they aren't bad, they're good tracks to just reflect and think on life in general.

There's a cathartic feeling to the track "Deja Vu," and "Pointless Grudge" is in the same vein, a great statement on staying angry over stupid things in life. The album ends with "Colorful Clouds from Mars" which in a way kind of sums up life here on earth. We're full of color, a bit foreign from the other life, and like clouds only here for a moment and then gone."

-NW Music Scene - Northwest Music Scene (3/2016)

"The Hugs: Ever evolving psychedelic pop darlings"

When I was a high schooler, the Hugs were the local band scenesters loved to shit on—probably because the group was so perfectly poised for mainstream success (and if there’s anything Portland’s cultural arbiters hate, it’s an artist aspiring to be meaningfully successful). They were young, talented, had a reasonable national following, and had secured opening slots for big groups like the Walkmen and the Dandy Warhols—huge feats for such a young band, whose members were still in high school. Shortly thereafter, the group was scooped up by esteemed British label 1965 Records, and had reportedly entered the studio with White Stripes producer Liam Watson—but then everything seemed to fall apart. The 1965 debut never materialized, and the band was essentially reduced to a solo vehicle for singer/songwriter Danny Delegato. Feelings of Life, the latest LP released under the Hugs tag, is a bizarre and indelible marriage of Revolver-era psychedelia and radio-friendly, Prius ad-pop. It doesn’t do a lot for their cred, but hopefully earns them the recognition they’ve long deserved. MORGAN TROPER - Portland Mercury (7/2016)

"Artist Spotlight - The Hugs"

We had the opportunity to chat with The Hugs for an Artist Spotlight Interview! This pop-rock indie three-piece from Portland, Oregon features Danny Delegato - lead singer, guitar, Kauri Voss - bass, vocals and Keagan O'Brien - drums. Their sound features dynamic vocals and a garage indie drive that powers their tracks. They are tenaciously fun and need to be in your rotation. The Hugs are releasing a 5th studio album in Spring 2019! - Alt Revue

"The Hugs Bring the Love with "New Utopia""

Since 2007, garage-pop quartet The Hugs have radiated nothing but sheer entrancing energy. Sometimes more on the rocking side, sometimes more on the power-pop side, The Hugs have never ceased to embed a sense of angst in their tracks despite their affectionate name. And now, on the day truly meant for love in a calendrical sense, The Hugs are sharing some new tunes with just as loving of an air.

Sure, the band have touched on romantic notes before, but this Valentine's Day release sees the band occupying more of a sweet realm with their new EP New Utopia, manifesting amorous undertones through a more tender, dreamy synth-pop that's just as indelible as songs the before it. It's the perfect triad of love-themed tracks from one of your favorite bands, and it couldn't have come on a better day. - The Deli Magazine

"From High School To London"

The Hugs are a four-piece rock ’n’ roll band from Portland, Oregon, who recorded their debut album in England. This makes sense because their music sounds British—not “Greensleeves” British, but rather the brand of British that became popular when groups like The Kinks and The Yardbirds invaded America in the mid-’60s with their ramshackle lyrics and bluesy riffs. The Hugs’s music, though, is also very Oregonian, owing an equal debt to home-state forerunners like “Louie Louie” auteurs The Kingsmen and the late-’70s pre-grunge grunge outfit the Wipers. - Interview Magazine (2009)

"Perfect Contemporary Interpretation of the '60s British Pop"

Though members of the Hugs were just graduating high school when they formed in 2007, they still managed to expertly cultivate an experienced sound. Seemingly inspired in equal parts by the Kinks' The Village Green Preservation Society and more modern Detroit bands such as the Go, we are given a perfect contemporary interpretation of the '60s British pop sound. The Hugs were snatched up last year by an English producer for their self-titled album, so we should all do ourselves a favor and see this band before they're exported to Europe to make it big. - Willamette Weekly

"The Hugs"

The Hugs are the band that you wish you were in during high school. Or college. Or right now for that matter. Visceral and earnest, their songs are further along than their playing, and that's a good thing. Everything from the Velvet Underground to the Kinks to early Pavement is here, all being written by chaps young enough to yet worry about declaring a major. Unless, of course, it's declaring which major label they want to sign to, in which case the lucky winner is London-based 1965 records. Not quite a household name yet, the label is the lovechild of James Endeacott, formerly of Rough Trade records, who had the foresight to sign another young and eager band called the Strokes a few years back. Can the Hugs embrace their future as garage rock's next big thing? I, for one, sure do hope so. AY - AY (Portland Mercury)

"Gus Van Sant Brings Up The Hugs Randomly in an Interview"

“There’s a band called the Hugs that I like a lot. They play folk rock. They’re a Portland band. I really like their songs."

(Note from the hugs: We're not joking. It's in there... Just, randomly... in the New York Post... and they published it. Also... we aren't really folk rock, but okay) - New York Post


'The Hugs' Self Titled - May 2007

"Again And Again" - October 2009

"Dirty Gems" [EP] - June 2012

"Love Led You Here" - July 2013

"Wherever You Go" [Single] - November 2014

"Modern Sparkle" [EP] - August 2015

"Feelings of Life" - March 2016

"Crave" [Single] - June 2016

"New Utopia" [EP] - February 2018



If Brit-pop and the Pacific Northwest made sweet, dirty love, you’d get The Hugs.

With garage rock backed by high energy and angst, The Hugs  were founded in 2007 in Portland, OR and signed to 1965 Records in the UK and has opened for groups like the Kooks, Marmozets, the Walkmen, and the Dandy Warhols.

The group’s sound has lent comparisons to the Kooks, The Lemonheads, the Libertines, the Wipers, and the Kingsmen and have been praised by NME Magazine, Interview Magazine, Northwest Music Scene, the Portland Mercury, the Inlander, do503 and Willamette Weekly and and their music featured on HBO’s “Girls”, ABC Family’s “The Lying Game”, MTV’s “Awkward” and "Teen Mom". 

"The Hugs are a four-piece rock ’n’ roll band from Portland, Oregon, who recorded their debut album in England. This makes sense because their music sounds British—not “Greensleeves” British, but rather the brand of British that became popular when groups like The Kinks and The Yardbirds invaded America in the mid-’60s with their ramshackle lyrics and bluesy riffs. The Hugs’s music, though, is also very Oregonian, owing an equal debt to home-state forerunners like “Louie Louie” auteurs The Kingsmen and the late-’70s pre-grunge grunge outfit the Wipers." (Interview Magazine)

In November of 2016 the group revealed its revamped roster featuring bassist Kauri Voss out of Chicago and drummer Keagan O'Brien out of Detroit joining vocalist, Danny Delegato, the founding member and Portland-native.

Band Members