Having rediscovered Cymbals (7.2/10) excellent second album 'The Age of fracture' it still seems strange to me that the band aren't better known. Cymbals refreshingly eclectic update of 80's pop, still sounds fantastic 3 years on. Since then the band seemed to have spawned several more successful and less vibrant imitators. So I was glad to finally get a chance to see them live ahead of the release of their third album 'light in your mind'. Unfortunately the giddy joys of the last album seem to have given way to a more sombre violin led sound. Taking in elements of post-punk and and toning down the exuberance of the earlier material, of the newer songs it was 'fully automated luxury' which stood out as the strongest. Despite being less keen on the newer material, I'm glad that I've finally had the chance to see brilliant songs such as 'the natural age', 'empty space' and 'like an animal' played live.
While the vast majority had come along to see Los Campesinos in the bigger room next door, an admirably candid Hoops (7.6) said 'thanks for coming to our show and not *points at other room*'. . Hoops hail from Bloomington, Illinois. Despite only playing to a relatively small crowd, Hoops were having the time of their lives. Saying that Birmingham is a 'beautiful city' and that 'if you've not been to Illinois then you're not missing much'. Hoops have a slacker charm and a dry sense of humour.
They don't have a front-man, yet the constantly smiling guitarist Drew, seemed to be the mouthpiece of the band, saying 'I like this song' before almost every song and just shrugging off their keyboards joke that all their songs are shit. Hoops play the sort of hazy, lazy indie rock that used to be associated with Mac Demarco. Despite looking and sounding like slackers, Hoops musical ability sets them apart from most. Many of the songs off their début album are bursting with energy and melody. While they have only just released a record hoops are a fantastically tight live band who've been honing their craft for 6 years. The vintage keyboards and lo-fi guitars give their music a washed out sound, as if it's been warped on an old VHS. The only real fault with Hoops is that despite having three vocalists, none of them are very good at singing. The flat mono-tonal singing suits their sound, but it robs the songs of any real emotional connection. Hoops début album 'Routines' came out last Friday on Fat Possum records and I highly recommend you give it a listen.