Hopewell – Another Music EP

September 20th, 2012
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Maybe ‘Another’ Time

When New York space rockers Hopewell got the chance to cut a track with O.G. shoegazer Mark Gardener of Ride, they not only leapt at the chance, they built an EP around it. However, with five pieces of up-and-down, loopy roller coaster action—and Gardener’s here-and-gone appearance after the set’s opening cut—Another Music’s turgid tail end has a way of gassing to a halt and leaving its passenger more queasy than thrilled.

Oddly, the jewel in the crown of this effort lay not in Hopewell’s collaboration with Gardener, but “This Is This,” a ventursome, shapeshifting space opera. Its light-dark polarity, wah-wah guitar scratches and tribal jig rhythm evoke a kind of sci-fi jungle teeming with robot–animal hybrids. Dramatically clipped guitars drift from “shimmer” to “sputter” until the chorus piledrives into an unsafely staccato shout of “This! Is! Happening!” Hey, we read you, man. The song’s risk taking pays off, and it shows to be Another Music’s most cleanly cobbled Frankenstein.

A cut below is the EP’s Gardener-starring cover of the Brian Eno classic, “Needle in the Camel’s Eye.” Replacing the original song’s front-and-center, droning guitar is Hopewell’s more Velvet Underground-patterned delivery, including some plinky piano stabs and a cheese grater guitar outro. Eno’s buzzed-out resignation gives way to a less encumbered, happy-faced delivery. It’s a sound rendition, but if the ex-Ride frontman’s appearance isn’t reduced already, what’s funny is despite his impassioned lead vocal, Jason Russo and company provide backup in a loud unison—effectively smothering Gardener’s tone in a pillow of bland, polyanthropic shouts. Look, Hopewell, you worked this hard to get the guy: Can we hear him go it alone, then?

Sadly, “Over the Mountain” is not an homage to Randy Rhoads–era Ozzy Osbourne, but rather a ditsy Talking Heads sendup, right down to some jittery hand drumming and Russo affecting a rubber-voiced preacher man, à la Speaking in Tongues–era David Byrne. Piercing guitar feedback squeaks around like a rusty training wheel—and this isn’t Hendrix, Andy Gill or Thurston Moore feedback: This is “ice pick in your ear canal” feedback. “Why did they put that there?” feedback.

The EP comes to a close in “The Six Knowables,” an erratic number lashed with the avante-garde sax shredding of Chemical Brothers go-to guy Mark Marinoff, as well as your standard briefcase of “let’s blow this shit up” sound effects, including a shortwave radio, digital bird chirps and more. All of it is skillfully performed—despite a cloying re-emergence of “bad” feedback—but with all the fuss and fury, where are the stick-to-your-brain dream pop melodies? We understand Hopewell’s aim is of a panoplic, “catch as catch can” fighting style—fellow weirdos Ween and Flaming Lips have trained well in it, too—but in the case of Another Music, there’s a difference between mixed martial arts and, well, mixed-up martial arts.

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By Owen Schumacher Posted in Reviews

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Hopewell – Another Music EP