Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hoover - s/t, (reunion) EP



In response, or rather in addition, to:

Burning Down the Dreams of Forever - Hoover, The Lurid Traversal of Route 7

Hoover are one of the great emo bands, as well as one of the great 90s Dischord groups, and a great post-hardcore group, and the originator for a whole bunch of other great bands (Crownhate Ruin, Abilene, Radio Flyer, Regulator Watts, the Sorts [sorta!] and whatever else you can they list on bandtoband). So yeah, they're pretty damn important. As sbj said, "Whether you know it or not, this is the soundtrack you've been looking for". You'll probably have seen the term 'DC-style' thrown around a lot; and musically, as well as lyrically and artistically, this band is it - "...something of a milestone. A paean to the suburban disenchantment that looms over the nation's capital like flies on shit."

I use this guy a lot, but his description of this band in particular is one of my favourites:

"Wow. Some people say this sounds like Fugazi,and they miss the point. It sounds like classic DC twin-guitar midtempo style, as do Fugazi and a hundred other bands. The important part was the way the evil slithering basslines made it seem so dark and serious, and the way the singer worked up from whispering to a tortured animal howl at the end. 'Cuts Like Drugs' has it all." (Andy Radin, fourfa.com)

Lurid Traversal is, of course, doubtlessly the Hoover record. It gives you plenty of listening (13 tracks and just over an hour on the CD remaster, which appends the 'Return'/'Private'/'Dries' 7") and is pretty much a 'great' of 90s hardcore. But, if you still want more, they returned four years later to release a five-song EP on Slowdime Records, an offshoot label of the whole DC/Dischord scene. Here's a contemporary review of the record from Suburban Voice, to be found on the Operation Phoenix Records' zine archive:

"Hoover (Slowdime, EP)

Most emo bands today want to sound like Hoover and with good reason; they were a great band. They took that Fugazi/Dischord post-hardcore sound a step further into Eastern melodies and reggae. So Hoover re-formed last year to record four songs they had written but not recorded and one new version of a song from their lp, "The Lurid Traversal of Rt. 7". It's a spotty release: "Breather" sounds like mellow grunge and their new version of "Electrolux" has a great reggae/dub sound and cool horns, but goes on for far too long. For Hoover fans, this provides a chance to hear what they might be doing today; for those just getting into emo and/or Hoover, it's advisable to pick up the album or the seven inch first. (PO Box 414, Arlington, Va 22210) (Rachel)"

(Issue #42)

I think she's kind of harsh in parts although - and with a personal propensity to eulogise albums incessantly - that is in hindsight, Hoover having recycled its popularity many times over since with new emo kids (like me!). Nevertheless, 'Breather' - which others, like Andy Radin, call one of Hoover's best songs - "mellow grunge". What does DC mid-tempo post-hardcore normally sound like, and what's wrong with mellow grunge? Personally 'Breather Resist' doesn't entirely overwhelm me like some Hoover songs do, but I think it really points towards the later, more developed sound of Regulator Watts - another Alex Dunham vehicle with that same alternating lulling, melodic and white-hot angry guitar sound.

And the remix of 'Electrolux' - 'Relectrolux/Electrodub' to give it its full title - is lengthy, but mereticiously so. I mean, come on, it's a dub version - it's meant to go on for a long, long time - and Electrolux was never meant to be short in the first place (and had horns originally, I think). Interestingly, Regulator Watts did the same thing - spaceing out and creeping out further an already spacey and creepy song - with 'False Idols' first, on The Aesthetics of No-Drag, and then 'Version Idols' on the Mercury CD. It's just my opinion, but I think 'Relectrolux/Electrodub' is a great idea - and I don't even smoke. (There's also, on the Twenty Years of Dischord box set, a dub version of Government Issue's Asshole, performed my Ian MacKaye's Minor Threat. So yeah. Curious and curiouser...) Furthermore, it also provides a handy classification for the Hoover family tree: whether they are more Relectrolux / Electrodub than Electrolux, or vice versa.

The other three songs, 'TNT', 'New Five Drive', and 'Weeds' are very good, too. They all sound like they would fit in well in either Hoover's original album or in Regulator Watts/Radio Flyer (the, ahem, Electrolux end of the Hoover genealogical spectrum). 'Weeds' especially, with its screamed chorus of "Your backyard's overgrown" does the band justice. But see for yourself (not sure where you can get your hands on an actual CD copy, other than obscure distros. If anyone knows I'll put the link in, for ethics' sake):


Hoover - Slowdime EP

17 comments:

josephlovesit said...

I never figured I'd hear of this band again.

A student-teacher for my highschool art class always used to give my friend CDs to borrow and Hoover was one of them (among others like No Knife, Isis and Pavement). I recall hearing Hoover and really digging it.

Great blog, I loved your MBV and Mclusky posts.

gabbagabbahey said...

that's a pretty cool way to hear Hoover; eclectic tastes this teacher had, it seems. Hoover, MBV and Mclusky are pretty wide-ranging too I guess - I try!

For you and anyone else who's digging Hoover these days, and wants to know/hear more, I'll probably post some choice picks from the post-Hoover musical diaspora, plus there's an earlier Hoover song (from a split 7" with Lincoln) that I can post if anyone wants it...

PS, I linked your site. Like your blog too

josephlovesit said...

Thanks for the link, gabba!

I made a rookie mistake of commenting right before I listened to the EP you posted. But man, I loved it. I'm definitely interested in hearing more.

rgratzer said...

Thanks for these (and the others)!

I had a friend who was always mentioning her love for Hoover. I just had the All The President's Men comp, which features Breather Resist. And I don't know, but that song just never really pulled me in, so I ended up never bothering to get more. But now I regret it! well, I guess I shouldn't regret it any longer, since I now have all these songs to listen to.

blend77 said...

rgratzer. send me youre friends phone number... sounds like my kind of girl... ^_~

definitely a phenomenal album. I missed out on this one in the 90's and only heard it this year, but Lurid Traversal is one of th ebest records ive ever owned, and this fits perfectly with it...

id love to see your post on all things Hoover... mostly to see how you describe them. you have a way with words Gabba...

and the Sorts definitely fit in... Jason Farrall plays with them..i think...

blend77 said...

oh, and dont forget the mighty June of 44.... Fred Erskine played bass for them as well... and Sean Meadows of June of 44 played with Lungfish later on..
and of course the other two were in two other amazing bands... Rodan and Shipping News...

and i think some of the Hoover guys played in the chicago collective HiM (not the norwegian goth metal band H.I.M., but HiM - dubby rhythmic goodness)

gabbagabbahey said...

blend

I'll definitely be posting some all things Hoover - either just redo your post, with everything together, or I might do them bit by bit. Right now I seem to have accidentally got on to a bit of an emo streak, although what I really wanted to post was Lou Reed. Funny, that.

What I meant about the Sorts was that they don't sound that much like Hoover, it's just that they shared a member (I presume you noticed the bad pun as well). I decided to pull their albums off your site just this week... only listened to Common Time so far, but I'm really impressed, got me through a few long bus rides. Actually quite similar to Abilene (first album that is), good and jazzy.

June of 44 I've never gotten into really, although I should really just go ahead and use some eMusic credits on them... T&G tough policy towards bloggers is a bit of a hindrance. HiM (difference from his infernal majesty noted... we have a real problem with goths over here) I've never heard, sounds pretty out there though.

The problem with Bandtoband is a) they don't tell you what instrument each member's playing, which I think is useful for building up an idea of influence in the band (e.g., whether Erskine is on bass, trumpet, both etc.) and b) they unfortunately have nowhere to hear the band.

Anyway, according to BtB there's also a group in the genealogy called Watts Systems Ltd. I'm guessing they might sound a lot like Regulator Watts... its the Alex Dunham bands I'm most interested in, generally.

So... pursuit of completist Hoover family tree? As I say, I'll write up my choice ones (Abilene, Radio Flyer, mainly) but it would be cool to hear as much of the whole lot as possible first. I'll have More Time in my headphones for the bus tomoro!

gabbagabbahey said...

sorry, More There

blend77 said...

i did like it, it was a funny pun. i meant to give a nod to it...

yeah, i got you on Abilene and June of 44 and HiM.. HiM is really dubby and trip hoppy, but its alot of live instrumentation, so its pretty good... Josh La Rue (from Sorts, Rain Like the Sound of Trains, Sevens) plays with them, as well as people from Tortoise and the Chicago Underground (Rob Mazurek) Alex Dunham played on one, Jason Farrel plays, and Doug Scharin plays as well (Codeine, Rex, june of 44)

i totally agree about bandtoband... it should list the contributions and even songwriting credits. and definitely should have samples to listen to...

i'll try to get those up for you tonite...

rgratzer said...

Woah, Hoover and HiM... I would have never guessed that connection. I listen to Egg pretty often. It's really good; great rhythm, cool beats. I was in the bookstore the other day and came across a book about the other HIM, and it confused me very much. I looked through the entire book, looking for a mention of Egg as some sort of earlier, forgotten sound for the band. But, of course, entirely different band... duh.

(And blend77, it's m. from ape must not kill ape records! maybe you two can connect over your mutual love of Hoover.)

blend77 said...

hey!apes and apes! awesome ^_^

yeah, Hoover always made me smile. I remember driving many a late night from my girlfriends house in highschool, on all these back roads, and that was the de facto soundtrack. And as an album, Lurid Traversal has continued to get better over time.

kona said...

Drummer for Hoover/theSorts/-Chris Farrall. NOT Jason. (Swiz, Bluetip, ect.)

john said...

Excellent blog. Been a fan of all things Alex Dunham since high school, lost the Hoover EP and am super pleased to find it here - cuz i haven't been able to find it elsewhere. Also haven't been able to find out much about what Al Dunham is up to these days (been a while since the last Abilene album). If anyone reading this knows if he's actively playing shows in Chicago, please post!

Anonymous said...

"The problem with Bandtoband is a) they don't tell you what instrument each member's playing, which I think is useful for building up an idea of influence in the band (e.g., whether Erskine is on bass, trumpet, both etc.) and b) they unfortunately have nowhere to hear the band."

We are only human over at bandtoband. (a) Finding out who played what is an impossibility for the majority of records. We don't own own everything, and even if we did, many albums simply don't give that info. Just finding out the lineup for a single release can take hours of work. (b) We experimented with a link to iTunes, but you have the internets, you should be able to find it just as easily as us.

J. Namdev said...

Worthy project! Aside from pre-Hoover activities, I haven't heard a Hoover related band that wasn't at least interesting.

I was a huge fan of the All The President's men track, Breather Resist and I assumed the reunion EP would be along the same lines: expansive, foggy, "Cuts Like Drugs"-style epic-ness. I hadn't realized how heavy "Breather" was until this record came out and its all blazing energy and quasi-metal riffs (thanks, Mr. Dunham). My thought is that the loudness of late-Hoover is why the initial Crownhate Ruin offerings were so quiet and hypnotic, kind of a counterpoint.

I found this link to a live set from '94, features everything from the EP (including the bad-ass and heavier version of Electrolux), plus Cuts Like Drugs and Father. http://www.mediafire.com/?txmcib9niuz

The other thing that I don't know if its been mentioned yet, is how these guys couldn't seem to stop making music together. There's obviously the Crownhate Ruin with Joe and Fred, but towards the end (probably after 'Watts broke up) Alex Dunham joined the band. Back in the 90's, Juan Carrera (Slowdime Records) had told me how he wanted to put out a posthumous 7" with one of the new songs with Dunham on it. In addition, Sea Tiger had Chris, Al and Joe on thier records, some HIM records feature both Fred and Joe, and then it ruled that Fred joined Abilene.

gabbagabbahey said...

j., thanks for the comment. Downloading the live recording now.

I didn't know that about Crownhate, but certainly the fact that the Hoover family tree is so cross-pollinated - as opposed to everyone going off to start their own bands, on their own - is a big part of why I'm so interested in it.

Some of the early Crownhate Ruin is heavy, even heavier than this, but yeah I guess a lot of it was about exploring the quiet side of Hoover, too.

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