Hoops: Hoops EP

Hoops are going from a mass of lo-fi tape to a shiny EP, are they distilling the best or losing their way?

- In a somewhat anti-everthing move, Bloomington IN musician Drew Auschermann released three mammoth tapes as Hoops in the hazy period between the end of last year and the start of this one. Named Hoops Tape 1, 2 + 3, they were only available through Mediafire, and some of it was the most shockingly lo-fi bullshit you’d heard in almost forever. But it packed together some wonderful, incredibly affecting songwriting with great guitar work and interesting melodies.

Auschermann’s project is best described as a combination of an early Ariel Pink aesthetic with the sad-eyed indie songwriter pop that’s been being pumped out of the US and Canada in the last four or so years. It’s nowhere near as dull as what that might make it sound like; it’s almost always compelling.

Now a 4-piece, Hoops are running hot on the promise of a recent tour supporting Whitney and things are looking up. What better time to further their career with a clean and digestible EP? Such a good question.

Only one of the songs from any of the early 2016 tapes to feature on Hoop’s clean, digestible eponymous debut EP is Cool 2. It appears in re-recorded, spiced-up format as track one. I wasn’t kidding about the Ariel Pink comparison. Pink has a variety of voices of course, but Auschermann often sounds identical to what I’d call “sad Ariel” – where it sounds like he’s mock-choking back tears through the singing. Nevertheless, Cool 2 is the biggest, most infectious banger on the EP – which is a slight disappointment, as it lasts for under a couple of minutes.

Hoops then decide to deviate into the more narcotic element of their sound, which was a huge feature in all the tapes. Both Yeah and Going Strong probably best exemplify the laziness of Hoops’ approach. It’s not lazily made music – more just breezy – but you only have to check the titles, and some of the lyrics, to get an idea. The chorus of Going Strong: “try to understand what’s going on / can’t believe that you’re still going strong.” That’s just the kind of banal non-observation that makes you not really mind that humans will be extinct one day.

Hoops make some enjoyable music, that’s for sure. I thoroughly enjoy what they do, and it’s way more interesting than a lot of the indie music you’ll hear these days. But at best, this EP houses fairly good songs. You’re much better off just checking out their tapes for an altogether better experience. Let’s just hope this EP makes them some cash $ so Auschermann can move on to emulating his tape work in a non-stale way.

- Joe Saxby.

Album Details

Album Title: Hoops EP
Artist: Hoops
Record Label: (Fat Possum / Inertia)