Saturday 17 October 2015

LISTEN: The Hoosiers - 'The Secret Service'

As someone without musical talents, I feel far more comfortable writing posts that I can refer to as recommendations, as I feel I've little right to explicitly review and criticise music. I mostly write about the music I have discovered myself and as such my posts are usually particularly personal, perhaps none more so than this, about a band who I am particularly passionate about!

Last night I had the fantastic opportunity to see The Hoosiers play a small, free show in Banbury, just a £4 return train trip away from Oxford! Train delays on the way there and the fact that the set was a pretty late one (so I had to rush to catch the last train after) aside, I had such a great night (and can't wait to see them again tomorrow night in Southampton at Engine Rooms.)

The band are a few dates into a UK tour in support of their recently released fourth album, The Secret Service. Featuring four tracks already released through recent EPs, the album is in my opinion a huge triumph. It showcases a really refreshing and broad range of tracks, from the fun The Wheels Fell Off and The Most Peculiar Day Of Your Life, the chilling Dancers In The Dark and (Don't Make) Eye Contact, to a particular favourite of mine, the incredibly catchy I Will Be King

Album art for The Secret Service
Starting with a fairly upbeat track reflective of their hit singles, Pristine, the album contrastingly finishes with a beautiful acoustic song (My) Secret Service, with drummer Alphonso Sharland on some cracking lead vocals. Much of the record reflects this stripped back track, as a lot of the album was recorded live. Unlike so many albums that you hear, where you can't help but be skeptical of how far the production process has taken the track, and whether the band could ever reach that level of perfection in a live performance - these songs feel authentic and this gives them quite passionate, heartfelt roots, which also comes across in the lyrics.

Releasing the record independently allowed the band creative freedom to produce music that they enjoy writing and performing - which comes across in the tracks, but also as a fan is reaffirming in that they'll carry on playing while they're enjoying it! Often the pressures that come in hand with a major record deal to produce commercial music can hinder the creative process and, I imagine, make it far less fun! 

Personally I'm really proud of the band for this record, it feels fairly grown up (they've even, funnily, got an explicit track on the record) whilst simultaneously sticking with the fun and catchy nature of the tracks that shot the band to fame all those years ago (the likes of Worried About Ray and Goodbye Mr. A). I'd hugely recommend giving it a listen! You can find out more about the record and order a copy on CD/Vinyl (releasing 30th October), and look at the band's remaining tour dates including London's The Borderline this Wednesday 21st October (sadly a gig clash for me but very much looking forward to seeing Jack Savoretti that evening!) here on the band's website.

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