Through the years, Jamie Hoover has not only produced a string of fantastic records with his band, The Spongetones, he has also produced, engineered, played with, and hung with damned near everybody, or so it seems from reading a comprehensive credit list. Yet somehow he remains one of those incredibly talented people who never quite reap the acclaim they deserve (to say nothing of the financial rewards).
He never stops hustling, though. Earlier this year he released Paparazzi, a collaboration with fellow Power Pop luminary Bill Lloyd and Smithereens drummer Dennis Diken, and a new Spongetones record is in the works. There’s also Jamie Hoo-ever, a new solo project featuring covers of tunes by The Traveling Wilburys, Klaatu, Bobby Fuller, Todd Rundgren, Let’s Active, The Everly Brothers, and of course, The Beatles. He’s recently toured with Lloyd, Don Dixon, and Robert Crenshaw. Then there’s the Van Deleckis side project with Bryan Shumate, and in all his spare time he still manages to produce a bit.
The Pit is honored, therefore, that Hoover somehow made time to field 22 questions for us. Read more
As I seem to note every year about this time, my “Best of” lists tend to suggest their own themes, and 2k2, despite some truly outstanding efforts from the US, UK, and the Commonwealth of Canadia, was clearly the year of the Swedish Invasion. Three bands from the Kingdom of Sverige – The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Kent, and The Hellacopters – cracked the Pit’s top ten this year, and if I’d ever gotten around to picking up the latest from Skelleftea’s own Wannadies, I wonder if there might not have been four.
All of which raises an obvious question – how is it that a nation famous mostly for eight-month winters, a nonexistent bikini team, and Peter Forsberg is able to take our popular music forms and produce better stuff than our own artists? Hmmph. Well, I could probably go on for days there, but I shan’t. Let’s just leave it at this: Sweden is lately home to a spectacular popular music culture, and in 2002 our Nordic brethren really showed us how it’s done.
As always, I bought about a tenth of what I wish I had been able to afford, and apologize profusely to all the worthy bands who might have been mentioned here had I only time enough and a budget.
1: Space Team Electra – Intergalactic Torch Song Read more
I think it was fall of 1989. My friends John and Cindy Cavanaugh called to say that “Paul’s band” was playing in Winston-Salem that night, and that they were driving up from Charlotte, and did I want to meet them for the show. Sure, what the heck. I’d been hearing about John’s old buddy Paul for a long time, and when you’re a single guy in my home town on a weeknight, pretty much any excuse to get out of the house is a good one.
That was my first encounter with YNOT?!, and it was one of those “omigod” moments that music fans have all too few of in their lives. This band just fucking raged. They had the sound, they had the songs, they had the look, but mainly they had this singer who just radiated presence – clearly, this guy was born to front a rock band.
Later that night I met Paul Lewis for the first time. Read more
What kind of place will the ground upon which we now stand be come January 1, 2101?
As we turn into a new millennium I imagine many people have pondered what the coming century holds for them, their children, and their grandchildren. Will the 2000s be a time of peace, of prosperity, an age of enlightenment and human achievement?
Or will humanity succumb to its darker instincts, engulfing the planet in war, environmental disaster, and economic inequity? Read more
I’ve been doing this annual CD review for several years now, even though few people notice, let alone care. So lately I’ve been pondering why I’m so obsessive about this ritual of seeking out new music, listening, buying, evaluating, ranking, and reporting, especially in a world gone so relativistic that we’re afraid to suggest that one thing is actually better than another thing. We’re comfortable enough saying we like this or that, but the idea of excellence as an absolute that transcends mere taste seems fascist to us. And when I assert my opinion that a particular CD is something you might like, and ought to listen to, that probably strikes some as more than a little arrogant.
So why do it? Part of the answer is simple enough – I love music and find the process both challenging and fun. But there’s more to it than that – I feel like we’re all caretakers of our culture. Ideally, everybody has a corner lot somewhere that we feel responsible for maintaining. Some people teach, some work tirelessly for the poor, some volunteer for the arts, some collect stamps, some coach little league, some sing in barbershop quartets…. You could argue that certain of these activities are more noble than others, but the point for me is that music is a powerful, affirming force, and a lot of really talented musicians are out there busting ass trying to move the culture along in a meaningful way. That’s their corner, and I’m genuinely grateful to them, even the ones whose music I despise, when they sing and play from the heart. Read more