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Thursday, April 27, 2017
Happyness, Her's, Hoopla Blue. Live at The Hare and Hounds review (26/4/17)
In this day and age it takes real skill for a band to be totally unique. In this regard I have all the respect in the world for Hoopla Blue (6.8/10). A band whose sound is a mixed bag of reggae rhythms, shimmering yet lo-fi, tropical guitar tones and dense synthesisers. They effectively have two front-men as their guitarists take turns doing lead vocals. One of which sings in a deep falsetto, which isn't far off from that of Wild Beasts' Hayden Thorpe. I think they've taken some some new members since I saw them last, and with the line up change they're songs have become bigger, bolder and braver. Hoopla blue have now nailed a loud/quiet dynamic and can go from abstract expressionists to raucous rockers in seconds. However, despite being impressed by their set and how they've developed, I'm still not sure of how much I like their eclectic sound.
What's for certain is that Liverpool's Her's (7.2) owe a huge debt to the washed out slacker-indie of Sean Nicolas Savage, Mac Demarco and what ever other hip band Mac's currently pals with. These two class clowns could not be more (ironically) trendy if they tried. With their second hand clothes, Apple Mac beats, and mix of gentle guitar, bass and deadpan vocals. Her's are undeniably cool. On-stage both members are hell-bent on having as much fun as possible. Their singer constantly strikes strange poses while standing on one leg, playing his guitar like some kind of indie rock flamingo. Only time will tell whether Liverpool's Her's (7.2) are a serious band or a hipster in-joke.
It's not hard to see why Happyness (6.4) had a bit of a head start with their début album 'Weird little birthday' in 2014. They fit into the slacker rock/ lo-fi revival like a glove. The problem is that I feel that they lack something special to set them apart from their peers and influences. For example, the dry observational humour of Courtney Barnett and Parquet Courts or at least the willingness to experiment of Yuck. Unfortunately an 'X-Factor' is missing in their shows. Happyness have the potential to be a great band, all being multi instrumentalists and having pretty much perfected their sound. Yet the downside is their vocals seem passionless and they barely engage their audience. Whenever Happyness did say anything to the crowd their shyness came across (to me at least), as more awkward than endearing. Happyness can do rock just as easily as piano balladry and their melancholic sound is pleasant, but their songs are just not that memorable. The closer for this set was 'Montreal rock band somewhere'. Happyness claim to be baffled as to why its everyone's favourite song of theirs, as it's the one they spent the least time writing. Yet to me it's an example of what they do best. The song is little more than a simple groove with some guitar shredding on top, yet it works so well that I think Happyness should spend less time writing all their songs.