Various Artists: Furious Hoops Vol.1

Record Store Day produces some weird and wonderful fare, but is this the most ballin' RSD release for 2015?

- Record Store Day brings out the weird and wonderful in many labels. It’s often quite hard to identify which dusty corner of whoever’s brain some of the many attempts to nail the market seem to come from; as such, here we are with a new compilation of DIY music put out by Savannah GA’s Future Hooves that centres around the concept of '90's basketball. Because why not?

What could have been either a purely perfect idea executed flawlessly, or just a tiresomely twee exercise in alienating self-absorption ends up, confusingly, as a bit of both. It wouldn’t be fair to say that most of the tracks on here fall flat, but I’ll stop just short of saying that and proceed to not feel too bad about it. There are some great moments, definitely, but they’re unfailingly bookended by some searing bouts of mediocrity.

The collection commences with a track called Commencement: a drone piece by a band called Blackrune that no doubt relates to B-ball in some way or another. It’s a strangely ominous, yet undoubtedly atmospheric and moody little thing, but my only questions are who, what, and why? Then, before you know it, the drones cease and we’re ripping straight into Sauna Heat’s The Palace, an exceedingly lo-fi jam that sounds like Black Lips beating up Dandy Warhols in a back-alley.

So then, now that the theme of humongous, uncompromising contrast has been established, it’s not too jarring when the lonely strumming, confused electronics, and spotty loops of Nevin Kight’s Plays skip on in and occupy track three. This is probably Furious Hoops’ most surprising highlight – everything about it congeals into a nicely composed ballad that’s as much an embodiment of wince-inducing nostalgia as it is an ode to “pizza delivery”, “alley-oops”, and “pass(ing) it back and forth”. Now we’re actually starting to hear some hoop-related rhetoric and it’s not all so vague.

It may sound a bit brutal of me, but the next few tracks are kind of worth skipping over. Find out for yourself of course, but I didn’t find a whole lot to love about Heavy Boots’ forced wooziness, Old Season’s basic take on the Kurt Vile technique, and especially not the dissonant, ironic stylings of Hawaiin Boi and Michael Myerz. Thank the lawd, then, that Homeshake comes in and saves everything a bit with He’s Heating Up, an unabashedly white take on dub, with probably the most anxious narrator you’re likely to hear on a song in 2015.

Both Hallucinex’s and 1000 Pieces’ following contributions toe the line between being great and just ok – but who really cares by now right? Just make it easier for yourself and enjoy the songs. Then, the compilation ends in as confusing a way as it started, with a cold, surreal acoustic number by Gnaw Rains called White Chocolate, Black Pleather that sees the singer simply listing what sounds like everything he dreamed about last night.

It seems like Furious Hoops Vol. 1 kind of reveres its own casual brand of blatant inconsistency – and that probably makes it taboo to complain about it, in exactly the way I just have. Really, it’s only meant to be a bit of fun, so obviously you should just go for it: buy the vinyl, get weird, and support labels and DIY artists. The packaging looks great. In the long run though, it’s probably one of those things that are a lot nicer to look at than listen to.

- Joe Saxby.

Album Details

Album Title: Furious Hoops Vol.1
Artist: Various Artists
Record Label: (Furious Hooves)