Today - November 21 - is No Music Day - which basically encourages people not to listen, make or otherwise involve themselves with music for one day of the year. I say, screw that. Not because I can't go without music, but because I can reserve the personal right to rationally and intelligently choose to listen to it ('it' being good music, of course) as and when I want.
You can read Bill Drummond's explanation for the idea here, which is essentially a rant of disillusionment with modern music. No Music Ireland gives as the first suggested reason "to reconnect with an art form through abstinence". How typical for a Catholic country - Joyce would be rocking slightly in his grave. So here's some music to rebelliously indulge in:
'Side Car Freddie'
This is Hoover's first 7", released in 1992 as Dischord 79.5/Hoover Limited 01. Their second, 'Return', was released shortly afterwards (FLEX says '92; T-DT-B says '93) as Dischord 86.5/Hoover Limited 02, and its three songs ('Return'/'Private'/'Dries') are included in the CD version of Lurid Traversal (1993, Dischord 89). Their split with Lincoln, released on Art Monk Construction, was released in 1993.
This 7" is quality stuff as well as an insight into the early sound of the band. 'Side Car Freddie' starts off with a soft - indeed, barely audible - sort of 'twinkle-emo' a bit like Indian Summer or Current (and as this is obviously a vinyl rip, you've got that little bit of crackle in there too) but when the rhythm section kicks in, you know that it's Hoover. There's an instant groove to it, and then the way 'side car freddie' is sung, just holding on at the end.
There are both typical and atypical elements to the song, at least from the perspective of their later work. The pounding drums and climbing riff accompanying the second chorus of 'it's under pressure' don't sound particularly usual, but they work into the structure or dynamic of a Hoover song.
The b-side is an - also partially atypical - version of 'Cable'. Rhythmically, it's (mostly) the same, but it lacks Erskine's trumpet as applied on the Lurid Traversal track. It gives it a sort of stripped-back, minimalist feel by comparison, emphasising the rather direct, though artfully complex beat to the song. Even without the assistance of the trumpet, there's still that violent, anarchic but completely well-placed moment of catharsis at the end of every crescendo.
'Cable' was the first Hoover song I ever heard - as I suppose might be true of quite a few people around after the fact, since it's featured on the 20 Years of Dischord compilation. It is an excellent track, and probably one of Hoover's most emphatic songs, but I never thought of it - mainly on account of the trumpet's prominence - as being particularly representative of the rest of the album. Hence, this version is quite interesting.
When looking for the cover for 'Side Car Freddie' - I'd be grateful if anyone could provide a larger version - I found an excellent blog by someone else who likes to write about Hoover (and Obama). Here's what he says about 'Side Car Freddie':
"AT the peak of their craft, Hoover created a hardcore punk sound that was engaging and very challenging. Most interestingly, their music conveyed a feeling of dire menace, but somewhat indirectly, so that the feeling was hard to place. The effect was cool, like a Jim Thompson novel set to a distorted punk score. Hoover’s first 7″ release, “Sidecar Freddie / Cable,” displayed this to great effect (particularly on the A-side), showing how quickly they outgrew the superficial Fugazi influence heard in their earliest songs."
There's also another great post on Current. Both posts combine some good YouTube footage of live shows by the bands with some very thoughtful discussion of their music as a whole.
The 'new beginnings' part of this post, as well as being a bit of carried-over enthusiasm, is I guess fairly obviously a reference to this being me essentially getting to the 'start' of the Hoover Genealogy Project, in terms of recorded output (the Endlessly Rocking post above also includes the video of Hoover's first show, if you haven't seen it already). Looking back at the first post on the reunion EP, I see that it has been just under a year since I started. It's still unfinished, which I guess should be another reason for 'new beginnings' - June of 44* (a band who, unfortunately, have never come naturally to me) and Regulator Watts as well as some of the further reaches of the family tree, and maybe even some kindred spirits as well (perhaps obliquely - I want to follow Blend77 again and do a post on The Mercury Program). For now though, let's stick to the roots.
And in a furtherance of the 'new beginnings' theme, Matt from Time Isn't On My Side has taken it upon himself to start a June of 44 Genealogy Project, kicking off with the minimal, folksy post-rock of Rex's self-titled album from 1995. Look forward to more explorations of the 'Louisville Sound' on there.
** Regulator Watts is sort of the opposite problem to June of 44 - so much of their essentially guitar-driven sound is immediately accessible to me, searingly complex, atonal, and discordant though it is, but as a whole I find their work - either The Aesthetic of No-Drag or The Mercury CD - difficult to follow. I think perhaps I'll deal with both releases simultaneously, and see if my face melts off in the process.