Of the many acts quietly hammering away in the shadow of the alternative revolution, hooyoosay wasn’t a strong contender for longest-lived or most famous. An apparent shunning of careerist game-playing and exposure of any kind was, and remains, part of the group’s appeal. Their discography painted a picture of musicians preoccupied with creating great musical art, enjoying the process, and very much leaving it at that. In fact a note on the band’s website even confirms as much: “hooyoosay is not a band actually. It’s a project of writing, playing, recording and releasing music. The contributors have chosen not to be credited, and some may vary with each recording. They take part merely because they enjoy it.”
They must be enjoying it thoroughly however, as hooyoosay continue to release music without stop. Five singles, two albums and three EP’s down the road the band keep churning out their original blend of unobtrusive retro-flavored pop with a twist.
Their latest EP release “Mountain Air” is the purest expression of the big, bright sounds that have always been within the band vision. Given their preexisting penchant for jangle-pop and sunny-day melancholia, the band has transposed those sensibilities into a conversation about escapist music – and what better place to escape to than the crisp, clean and fresh “Mountain Air”.
Sounding somewhere between The Ventures’ guitar-driven instrumentals and The B52’s tongue in cheek lyricism and male-female vocals, as well as REM’s quaint pop melodies, hooyoosay carve their way through a set of 5 catchy tracks, including 2 instrumental songs, that will grab your attention for the sheer audacity of this band to play such pristine, highly stylized arrangements when the rest of the music scene is moving towards dark and edgy themes.
The band’s delicate crystalline approach throughout their catalog is clearly a consequence of their own aesthetic preferences, the humor, insight, and sheer quality of their writing has in almost every instance provided a tension and bulwark that has prevented hooyoosay’s material from sliding into banal, clichéd territory, notwithstanding its retro tendencies.
Great songwriting writing, as always, can stand up to nearly any form of arrangement; alternatively, no amount of bells and whistles, strings, vocal harmonies and whispered sighs can rescue an insubstantial song from banality.
Hence “Mountain Air” is another glorious success – the songwriting is once again the center of attraction on this EP, but this time even the arrangements have been reinforced with a sense of energy and urgency that is nothing less than infectious on the title track “Mountain Air” and “Done Our Best”.
“Complicated” showcases the band’s ear for earthy arrangements, while the upbeat clean guitar-driven instrumentals, “Mountain View” and “My Lucky Dream” sound gorgeous and will have you tapping your feet and nodding your head in approval of the groove.
hooyoosay is still a fountain of clever wordplay, and they stick to their agenda – learned but unpretentious; complex but not unfocused; revealing but not diary-entry juvenile. Of course there’s a long history of clever pop music camouflaging its wistful subject matter and ideas with glistening keyboards, jolly guitars, and buoyant percussion…but that was in the 60’s, all we have left now is hooyoosay!
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