Residing in the lesser-trodden crannies of north-east London, freak-rock four-piece HOO HAs draw as much inspiration from Dr Feelgood and JJ Cale as they do Blur, Violent Femmes and JaJa OK. HOO HAs formed when Kent friends Mark (guitar) and Jack (bass) relocated to the capital after stints performing with Liz Neumayr and John Newman respectively. Mark then met Adam (drums) when they both played in Hares, a band formed by ex-Holloways man Rob Skipper, through whom they then discovered singer Jamie at a party (where else?). HOO HAs’ initial collective forays were comical blues jams, from which a more coherent, relevant sound emerged as the quartet focused on each song in its own entity, although their overall style is as distinct, and as earthy, as you’d expect from musicians who cite heroes as disparate as Dylan, Fugazi, Hendrix and Pixies. Add to this Jamie’s deadpan vocal style, which belies his clever off-kilter narratives about the 21st-century experience, and you have a clutch of literate, thrilling songs that at times make you laugh, sometimes make you shudder, but always keep you intensely entertained.
A brilliantly direct 128-second shot of bluesy new-wave, ‘Yankee’, recorded live to tape in a Dalston basement, wastes no time in making an impact through a Hendrixian guitar refrain arc-welded to a gleeful rhythmic shuffle. Singer Jamie doesn’t hang about with the vocal, either, his idiosyncratic holler coming on like a cockney Courtney Barnett. This “song written in the lust for finding purpose and happiness as the world seemingly descends into Malthusian turmoil” – as the band put it – flirts with blues, stoner-rock and art-school indie in its brief duration, but its stonewall catchiness remains a constant, as Jamie sardonically doles out such memorable edicts as: “Stop drowning discontent with all that wine/Try to get to bed one night at nine/Surprise yourself by stopping at a line”. ‘Yankee’ is such a certified earworm that you may feel compelled to take heed.
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