Hooyoosay – At The End Of The Day

 Hooyoosay – At The End Of The Day

Hooyoosay – At The End Of The Day – Album Review

Well now…At The End Of The Day, this is practically a greatest hits collection for Hooyoosay, ain’t it?

Good thing I’ve got labels & credits attached to this stuff too…I might know a few things about music here & there, but if there’s a gap in my knowledge/interest, chances are you’ll find it appears where you’d normally find The Rolling Stones.  Never been my thing…which is…well…daunting to say the least when it comes to a record like this that has SIX covers in the mix for ya, with five of’em coming from the legendary music makers led by Jagger & co. – I suppose even I’ll be learning a few things today, which is great!  We all have our blind spots…some intentional, some just by circumstance…I’ve never been a huge fan of straight-ahead Rock & Roll personally, but obviously millions of you ARE – so where I might falter a little here with any kind of relevant references to The Rolling Stones, I’m sure the vast majority of you out there reading will be able to fill in the gaps for me.  Other than that, I’m on fairly solid ground with having heard many of these original songs from Hooyoosay over the years from reviewing the past EPs released like Strange, Elusive You from 2020 and Had A Darker Day from 2021.  Interesting mix here.

Like honestly, I couldn’t tell ya if these are well-known tunes from The Rolling Stones or not – I literally have no clue.  As At The End Of The Day began with “It’s Not Easy” – I’ll admit…it sounds like a song that I might have heard once or twice in the past…but isn’t that how hearing anything by The Rolling Stones feels like – and even before they got their themselves?  That’s the way it’s always been for me.  A band that’s very much always given me the impression that, if ya like some of it, you might as well like all of it – I’ve just never really felt like the variation was there in comparison to most bands & artists out there.  This is where I rile up a whole bunch of their most dedicated fans who will all e-mail me and tell me to listen to this song or that song so that I can hear how different they really are…and you can hold off on pressing send if ya like; I really don’t think it’s going to change my impression of them as much as you might think.  I do actually like what I hear in the playful way that “It’s Not Easy” comes out through the version made by Hooyoosay though…but that’s largely because they remind me a heck of a lot more of something like the B-52s in the way they play it than The Rolling Stones.  From what I’ve read & what I understand, there’s a whole bunch of anonymous collaborators on these cuts…it makes for an engaging lineup of tunes that have a ton of unique talents on display.  “It’s Not Easy” kind of sounds like it could easily induce someone out there on the dance-floor to bust into doing the robot with the bounce of the keyboards, but I really like the personality you’ll find, and the female-driven vocals are truly sensational.

If you’ve heard the progression in Hooyoosay like I’ve experienced it over the past six years of listening, you already know that the music has gotten decisively more…dark from where it all began, let’s put it that way.  It might have a fairly vibrant and lively sound to it, but thematically, this project has been mired in the murk, and not exactly creating the happiest songs you’re gonna hear in any given year right now…which may or may-not be something they wanna consider.  “Tormented Soul” is one of the only original tracks on this particular record that I haven’t heard so far…it appears twice, which I always think is a risk to any song…and…yeah…I mean…it’s hard to say if it warrants two appearances in the lineup for ya or not.  I’m not completely opposed to it…the other version is acoustic-based & way further on down the road in this lineup – but I’m not entirely sure that it’s quite as strong as Hooyoosay might believe.  It is hard to look at this set-list and not come to the conclusion that this project & band is spinning its wheels a bit as it tries to figure out the next moves ahead, you know what I mean?  We’re recycling a lot of the past here…which is generally what putting out those advance EPs SHOULD lead to, and I appreciate that…but yeah…something about the new tunes from Hooyoosay really seem to kind of be stuck in the mud of moodiness and having a much harder time supplying you with that reason to return.  “Tormented Soul” is well-written, and well-executed too…I felt like it’s just missing that spark & reason to return that a song really needs.

You’ll always find that in situations like these…these compilation-style records that consist largely of stuff I’ve heard already…my opinions probably don’t change all that much – as in, however I felt originally, is quite likely gonna be how I feel still to this very day.  “I Am The Beggar” might be a bit of an exception to that rule in the sense that, with it already borrowing so much from the past of music’s history in the Blues & whatnot, and having pointed that out when I originally reviewed Hooyoosay’s Had A Darker Day EP last year…I guess hearing it again, kind of had me asking why a little bit more this time around.  I still think the instrumentation is stellar, I still think the words have great merit to them…but in terms of sound, it wasn’t really doing anything new back when it came out, and it’s obviously doing even less now in a repeat of hearing what we already know…it’s kind of hard to justify bringing it back again, in my opinion.  For those of you that dig your standard Blues riffs, perhaps this Bud’s for you…and if that’s the case, right on – I’d do nothing but give ya a high-five – we all like what we like & love what we love.  “I Am The Beggar” has excellent perspective in its lyricism – that was its main strength before, and continues to be its main strength – I still enjoy the idea of this character so desperately looking for love.

“Let’s Spend The Night Together” would definitely be the one cut on this record originally by The Rolling Stones that even I’d recognize.  Is it my jam?  Still no!  But I’m not hating on it…like I said, if Hooyoosay wants to rock with The Rolling Stones and spend time revisiting the past instead of pushing their own music forward, there’s not a whole lot I can do personally to prevent that…I’m just happy they’re all out there makin’ tunes for you to enjoy.  I’d imagine fans of the original tune will certainly still dig what they hear on this cover variation…or at least, I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t – the main hooks you know & love are still intact.  I’ve never been a huge fan of those low-key vocal moments that sound like an aside from a play…usually you find them in R&B from the 90s where the main singer will be like, “girrrrl…you know it’s so hard to be away from you…I just wanna hold you close” or whatever, in hushed tones that are supposed to be somewhat sexy at the same time…I just find it awkward to listen to, and always.  “Let’s Spend The Night Together” has one of those moments…maybe even a couple of’em arguably…but I guess that’s what this song is really all about anyway…an invitation to spend a bit more time together, and clearly that’s indicating between the sheets.  Ultimately, I think the majority of people out there that enjoy this song in its original form will likely have no problem climbing aboard for this cover version by Hooyoosay…they’re playing it with passion and genuine interest, and the sound of that is appealing.

I still think “If No One” is a really strong tune in the Hooyoosay catalog, and a highly observant tune when it comes to its lyricism.  You can read my original thoughts on it from the review on Had A Darker Day where it first appeared last year if ya like, just click right here.  Suffice it to say, it’s an insightful track that proves this project has plenty to say…and while it might have a bit more of a Pop-inclined spark to its sound, I’d be willing to bet that if you’re a fan of giant ensembles like The Arcade Fire or even The Polyphonic Spree…something like “If No One” really ain’t that distant of a cousin to that sound for ya.  “If No One” is the kind of smart use of a musical platform I personally enjoy listening to – I like it when artists & bands aren’t afraid to put their perspective & point of view out there, and this song does that.

They sure love their Rolling Stones…that much is clear.  Equally clear is just how much they’re really not my thing…I’m not a huge fan of something like “One More Try” personally, though I’ll certainly readily acknowledge that Hooyoosay never drops the ball when it comes to the passion and quality they’re bringing to these cover variations – that’s the most appealing part of a song like this to me, bar none.  All-in-all, the ability to cover this many songs in one setting does give Hooyoosay a unique opportunity to get a lot of this out in one shot, and there’s an additional cohesiveness to At The End Of The Day as a result of that choice when you listen to it.  I will always enjoy listening to the sound of a band or an artist that is 100% into the music they’re making, whether they’ve written it themselves or not doesn’t matter – when your number is called and it’s time to record, put the same level of enthusiasm and passion into your music as you hear Hooyoosay put into “One More Try” will ya?  A track like this fully compensates for how mired in the murk & the darkness that this project has been as of late in the past couple years of its existence, and reminds ya that the spark, energy, and fun is still present & a priority for this band to include.  Releasing this record of covers & past material might break’em outta their funk a little bit, and hopefully remind them that the world ain’t such a bad place to be…lots of great things goin’ on still and plenty of reasons to get out of bed in the morning.  The piano & harmonica steal the show on this cover.

“Olla Doo” is a track I definitely remember from the ending of the Strange, Elusive You EP that came out back in 2020…the instrumental finale of that particular record, and a genuine highlight in the Hooyoosay catalog!  Also further proof of how I can talk & talk all day long and attempt to point out what’s sincerely working for a band’s music and be entirely ignored based on what you’ll hear afterwards…which is likely for the best anyhow – as I’ve said many times, who the heck am I anyway?  I’m just some guy with another opinion…and if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout the years, it’s that there are SO MANY of ‘me’ out there that there’s no reason my opinion should have any more weight to it than your own does.  Anyhow.  “Olla Doo” is an absolutely killer cut from start to finish, and still remains one of the best songs I’ve ever heard within the Hooyoosay catalog.  I personally want a whole lot more of this to come from this band, but I also very much understand the desire to sing…I’ve been there myself, and the last thing I’d ever wanna do is discourage someone from doing something that they truly love to do.  I’m not saying that the proof isn’t in the pudding here, as they say…I very much think that it is – but that could be my own personal interpretation of what I’m hearing and not necessarily shared universally.  I do have a hard time imagining a scenario where the incredibly enticing instrumentation of “Olla Doo” wouldn’t be beloved by one & all that hear it, but again, maybe that’s just me.  To me, this song hits the mark in every conceivable way & I’d love to hear a full record of Hooyoosay just jammin’ it out like this.

I think of the songs chosen from the Rolling Stones catalog to be covered, I’m probably enjoying how “Please Go Home” came out the most.  Again, I don’t know that my opinion on this particular aspect of At The End Of The Day is going to be the common consensus we all share, but I do feel like what I’m hearing on “Please Go Home” came out with the most enticing results, and speaks strongly on behalf of what Hooyoosay is able to do with these chosen cover tunes.  This is clearly a much more stripped-down version of sound than you’d typically find within any record from The Rolling Stones, and through the perspective of Hooyoosay, almost comes out with a music-box-esque type of vibe to it…but to me, they found a real innocence that complements this whole atmosphere & the writing in a really great way.  To me, this was the cover that most ended up sounding like it belonged every bit as much to Hooyoosay as it might The Rolling Stones…and as most people would tell ya, you always wanna play someone else’s tune like you wrote it yourself if it can be done.  This is a solid example of that happening, and as a result, it felt like “Please Go Home” was one of the most significant highlights in this set of tracks, even with it being as delicate & low-key as it appeared to be.  I can relate to the sentiment of this song, 100%.

I dig the old-timey saloon-esque sound of a song like “Good Times Bad Times” enough, which is the final track from the set of Rolling Stones covers that appears on this new record by Hooyoosay.  Again, I’m not gonna be the guy to say that it’s a song that’s doing all that much that ya haven’t heard whether it’s in its original form or this cover variation…it’s another track that draws on a ton of what’s been done throughout the history of music, but there’s no denying that it’s a vibe that suits Hooyoosay pretty well.  Am I always going to prefer the unique creativity goin’ on in a track like “Olla Doo” compared to this?  Yep…for sure…that’s not even a contest for me personally, but it might be for many of you.  Thankfully, we all get both to enjoy on this one record, so no one really has to choose.  It’s as well-played as any of the tunes you’ll find on this album At The End Of The Day…but admittedly, “Good Times Bad Times” kind of just plods along like the song itself doesn’t have a care in the world about whether or not it’s bringing anyone in to listen or not…like a form of musical nonchalance of sorts.  I can’t say that Hooyoosay has quite done enough to sway my opinion on The Rolling Stones even one iota really…but I don’t mind listening to these tunes through their perspective and sound…at least that makes them a bit different to experience, whereas just about everything I know from The Stones sounds like the same ol’ song to me.  Once again, the piano and the harmonica come in to save the day here in terms of what I like about this.

The most single-worthy cut on this album is quite likely “All I Do Is Call Your Name,” which nearly doesn’t even fit into this lineup as a result of its more lively energy in comparison to just about the rest of the entire set of songs on this album.  That being said…I cannot even begin to express just how welcome that energy becomes at this point in the record’s lineup of fourteen tracks…it’s downright necessary right around here if Hooyoosay is going to keep people interested & engaged enough to find their way to the end.  The songs are well played, don’t get me wrong…it’s all out of step from what you’ll generally find out there in the music scene right now…but the quality in the performances & production is still there for sure.  A bit more energy to make sure everyone out there is still awake and paying their full attention definitely isn’t a bad move though, and that’s exactly what “All I Do Is Call Your Name” supplies.  While it might not seem like its inherent spark & upbeat pace is as much of a fit onto this new record…At The End Of The Day, it’s always going to be welcomed onto any playlist – it’s catchy, and it’s an undeniably quality cut that I’d be more shocked to find out people didn’t enjoy as opposed to the many out there that’ll love this tune.  Hooyoosay makes this one pretty easy to dig on & it’s appreciated.

I felt like there was another really solid victory to be had with the results you’ll hear on “Come On,” which is technically another cover tune found in the lineup of At The End Of The Day, but the only one that’s not from The Rolling Stones catalog – this one comes from the real king himself, Mr. Chuck Berry.  What I really loved about this song and the way that Hooyoosay plays it, is that it actually has you realizing how much more room there was for their creative freedom to play a more significant role here – it almost makes the previous covers of the Stones tunes seem a bit safer by comparison, you feel me?  “Come On” is one of those covers where you really feel like Hooyoosay has made their own by the way they play it, and to me, that’s always the best compliment you can pay to a variation.  You’d never find me tellin’ ya that any of these versions made by Hooyoosay are any kind of carbon copy to begin with, but you’ll get what I mean when you hear how “Come On” came out – it’s audibly that much more different than the original in comparison to the other tracks that they’ve chosen to cover on this album.  As a result, I felt like this version of “Come On” was magnificently fresh, and yet still retains the essence of the classic original just enough for us to recognize it, appreciate the many differences that Hooyoosay creates through their own instrumentation, and the stellar details in the background like the car crash sounds & phone calls & whatnot.  Call me crazy, but to me, it sounds like Hooyoosay lets loose here, and by comparison to their covers of the Stones, retroactively it makes them feel a bit more noticeably stiff, or at the very least, having a tougher time navigating the fine line of giving us what we want as listeners and fans of the original tunes versus being able to satisfy their own creativity & vision for their versions.  “Come On” is a whole lot of fun & that feeling that translates directly to us – I bet you’ll love this cover.

Overall, I like that Hooyoosay has definitely built a solid run towards the end of this record with a bunch of the highlights in this set coming towards the end to create a memorable finale to At The End Of The Day.  “Painkiller, Kill The Pain” might still not be one of the happiest cuts you’re gonna hear this year when you listen to the words up close, but the vibe & energy it has would certainly keep that disguised from most people listening out there.  I really liked this cut back when I first heard it on Had A Darker Day last year, I’m still every bit as much of a fan of it now…I’d reckon this is one of the stronger songs in the Hooyoosay catalog, and a stellar representation of what this band is like at their most intense and energetic.  No sacrificing any of the stuff you like about’em, just more of what you love on display – their penchant for melody and clever harmonies is fully intact – ultimately, I feel like they’ve really got one of their most engaging tracks with “Painkiller, Kill The Pain” and one of the most relevant sounds built for the right here & now of what’s happening in the scene with this particular tune.  It might be somewhat about suicide and struggling with LIFE ITSELF…but the reality is, there are a ton of positives to be taken from what they’ve created with this cut, and it really sounds like one of the best in their catalog to-date.

I found that I didn’t have too much of a preference between the electric version of “Tormented Soul” and the acoustic one found towards the end of the record.  I suppose I’m probably a bit more partial to this unplugged variation at the end – but I’d readily acknowledge that it’s got one of the toughest spots to fill in the set-list given that it’s coming after one of the most energetic tunes with “Painkiller, Kill The Pain” coming right beforehand.  So it’s almost like, just as we reach that peak energy we were hoping for Hooyoosay to reach, they pull the rug right out from underneath ya and send us back into a sleepier sound once again.  That’s kind of the thing though…tracks like “Come On, “All I Do Is Call Your Name” and “Painkiller, Kill The Pain” felt more like the exceptions than the rule for this particular record…and I did feel myself resisting a bit as I listened to this second version of “Tormented Soul.”  I’m very much of the mind that any song appearing twice has gotta be about twice as good to be able to withstand the natural wear and tear of being spun twice as much throughout the course of one lineup of songs on an album – I’ll readily concede that I’m not all that convinced “Tormented Soul” is the track to fill that role.  This is where what I was mentioning earlier about Hooyoosay spinning its wheels a bit creatively in making this record comes into play again…if they were cracking the bat and fully inspired, I don’t know that we’d even see two versions of one tune on an album, you know what I mean?  Having a second appearance of “Tormented Soul” did feel like the band has settled a bit, as opposed to pushed their music further, if that makes any sense.  There really aren’t too many ‘new’ songs on this album, so having the main one they’ve got appear twice might feel like the right way to go – and sure, maybe there are times where that will potentially work…but that would be one heck of a song to enable that scenario to be a successful one.  “Tormented Soul” is a good song…but I’m not quite convinced it’s so good that we need two versions of it within the one lineup…honestly I think it makes it harder to be appreciated as much as it perhaps should be, purely because we’re hearing it twice as much as the rest.

Like I was telling ya from the get-go…I’m just another person out there in this world, and they don’t need to take my opinion as the gospel truth about a single thing here – but if they’re being objective, I think they’ll understand my point by having another listen to the final track called “Then You Walked Away.”  I have no idea what caused them to give it this title, but I do understand it, because that’s how I felt here at the end…this is where I threw up my hands and said out loud to myself, ‘what are we doin’ here Hooyoosay?’ – because deep down, they know there’s not a whole lot here on this final song at all.  I could be like the rest of my peers and simply wrap things up on a happy note, tell them all great job and give them a nice digital pat on the back from way over here on this side of the screen – but that’s never how I’ve viewed my role.  For better or worse, I’ve always believed I serve to inspire artists and bands to be better in what they create…and I listen to a track like “Then You Walked Away” and know that Hooyoosay has so much more in the tank as a band than what this last song reveals.  The same can largely be said about this album in my opinion…there are undoubtedly many positives, yes – but by that same token & measurements I apply to everything I listen to & all that I know from their catalog so far – I think they owe it to themselves to challenge themselves more than they have At The End Of The Day.  So don’t be discouraged my friends…there are peaks and valleys in everyone’s catalog when we look back on them over time…this album’s not so much of a step backwards as it is kind of coasting along, and I suspect that Hooyoosay just needs to reconnect to what it was that got them making music in the first place, and tap back into that inspiration…that’s what’ll lead them in the right direction in the future.

Find out more about Hooyoosay at their official website at:  https://hooyoosay.com

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