Tag Archives: Hoops

Celebrating the 45th Anniversary of Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” with Artists on Bandcamp

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Nick Drake was the kind of musician other artists dream of being—and, in some ways, fear becoming. Largely unknown during his 26 years on this planet, Drake’s dark-yet-delicate music returned to public consciousness more than twenty-five years after his 1974 suicide, when the title track of his final record, Pink Moon (1972), was included in a dreamy 2000 Volkswagen commercial hawking the Cabrio convertible. Seventeen years later—and 45 after Pink Moon’s release—a diverse cross-section of musicians are still citing Drake as an influence.

In many ways, though his path was different than both of theirs, Drake was a kindred spirit to artists like Kurt Cobain and Elliott Smith (who also owes quite a bit of his spare, haunting sound to Drake). He was deeply in love with music, hungered for success, but, in many ways, shrank from the trappings of music stardom. As a result, he died “thinking he was a failure,” as his sister Gabrielle said in a 2015 interview with Esquire.

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Album of the Day: Permit, “Vol. 1”

Barreling from start to finish in less time than it takes to brew a pot of coffee, Vol. 1 from Indiana duo Permit crams a truckload of hooks into songs the size of a Smart car. Not one of them crosses the two-minute mark, and that’s to the record’s great benefit: rocketing from verse to chorus and back again, Permit have figured out the trick to writing pop songs is to double-down on the melody; everything else is just window dressing.

A side project of Drew Auscherman of Hoops, Permit trades that band’s laid-back, meditative indie-rock for power and velocity. “Track #1” (apparently, they don’t have time for song titles either) revs up hiccupping anxiety pop to light speed, guitars jittering away frantically vocals morose and mournful. “I’m having trouble moving on,” goes the chorus, just a few seconds before the band does just that. “Track #2” shrinks the swagger of Thin Lizzy-style radio rock to thimble size, the blistering riffs sounding so synthetic they could soundtrack Spy Hunter. Even though the songs are compact, they still find space to spread out: “Track #4” is laced up with a boot-stomping country-fried guitar riff, and the whispery, subdued vocal melody on “Track #6” contrasts beautifully with the blown-out, in-the-red instrumentation. Vol. 1’s 11th hour release date makes it the perfect salve for an often wearying year: turn off your brain, turn up the volume; repeat as necessary.

J. Edward Keyes

Album of the Day: Hoops, “EP”

Over the course of the last several years, the Bloomington band Hoops have been steadily garnering attention with their reverb-heavy dream-pop, netting comparisons to turn-of-the-decade favorites like Real Estate and Ariel Pink.

The group is the brainchild of Drew Auscherman who, along with bandmates Kevin Krauter, Keagan Beresford, and James Harris, plays and records with a variety of local bands and side-projects in Bloomington’s burgeoning rock scene. On their debut EP for Fat Possum, Hoops expand their sound while ramping up their pop ambition. The 17-minute collection boasts the group’s catchiest hooks to date, from the New-Wave pop riff that kicks off opening track “Cool 2” to the dramatic, Fleetwood Mac-inspired sonic buildup on “Gemini,” which closes the five-song EP.

“So here I go, back into my same old malaise,” Auscherman sings on “Cool 2.” It could be the EP’s defining statement; with vocals buried in the mix, Auscherman, Krauter and Beresford sing about restless confusion and the tragicomic passing of time—subjects that contrast with the group’s propensity for relaxed melodies and inviting power-pop riffs.

In just five brief songs, Hoops effectively channel ’80s New Wave while expanding on late ’00s chillwave, combining a fresh sense of pop craftsmanship with glowing, echo-drenched production.

—Jonathan Bernstein