Hooyoosay – Had A Darker Day – EP Review
Well if this title doesn’t say it all about the last year we had, I don’t know what would! The same musical project that once brought us some of the sunniest-side up vibes we’ve experienced thus far in our adventures with the charmingly sweet & playful single “Palm Tree In My Garden,” has found itself shrouded in a bit of a cloud of contrasting emotions on this brand-new 2021 EP, Had A Darker Day. Like I was implying at the start here…it’s only fair…melancholy has been running quite rampant throughout the music-scene, and for all kinds of justifiable reasons borne out of isolation-induced stagnation – it’s really only logical that Hooyoosay would be as affected with shifting moods as a result like the rest of us, and have that reflected in their music. I’ve Had A Darker Day or two myself over the past 365 that’s for sure; & I’m sure many of you out there can relate, inside & outside of a worldwide pandemic.
Anyhow…this is all conjecture, and likely a little projection as well. Hooyoosay has always found itself built upon a plethora of varied emotions, styles, and sounds – just like we experienced with the record Strange, Elusive You from last year in 2020. That inherent ability to contrast different sensory vibes into the colorful collage of melody & uniqueness that Hooyoosay brings to the music-scene has always been a tangible asset working well in favor of this project. Versatility & diversity comes naturally to this band that welcomes all kinds of different talents into the fold, none of which take any individual credit, and instead choose to share in the joys of making music together as one, in whatever style it will take them.
Like…you know…for example, at first glance, you’d likely assume that on an EP called Had A Darker Day, on a song called “Painkiller, Kill The Pain” starting it up, that you’d be in for a solid dose of audible misery – yet that’s far from the case when you hear the inspired & lively way Hooyoosay plays this tune. Surprisingly catchy all-around really, “Painkiller, Kill The Pain” works in the bass-lines perfectly, the harmonies spot-on, and a structure that remains impressively rhythmic, groovin’ & movin’ the entire way through. Make no mistake – this is not one of those hazy valium-style tracks whatsoever – in fact, this first cut actually has Hooyoosay sounding even more amped-up than my memory seems to recall, or perhaps they’ve ever been. They’ve almost got themselves like…a B-52s-meets-Midnight Oil-meets-Alt-J style of frantic-meets-frenetic hybrid vibe goin’ on here…and for myself personally, that absolutely works; I can only imagine you’d feel the same. So much instantly stands out for all the right reasons immediately – the main vocals are fantastic, the backing harmonies are essential and a perfect complement to the lead, the harmonica is off the charts amazing with just how much of a role it ends up playing in sparking-up the inspired energy that flows through “Painkiller, Kill The Pain” – and the rhythm section is as tight as tight can be too! As many times as I’ve toured through this record, and no matter how many good things you’ll find I go on to say about the Had A Darker Day EP from this point forward – to me, it remained entirely obvious that, if Hooyoosay is gonna put out a lead-single for this record, “Painkiller, Kill The Pain” is the indisputable choice. It certainly won’t give away everything you’re gonna find on the EP to follow, but the energy being created here and the catchiness of “Painkiller, Kill The Pain” is destined to be the gateway into this record whether it becomes a single of its own out there, or just by pushing play; and either way, it’s the kind of gripping first moment so loaded up with personality & passion that it’s absolutely guaranteed to keep the people out there listening for the full ride through the EP afterwards. If that ain’t what a first track on a record is supposed to accomplish, I don’t know what else it should be doing. “Painkiller, Kill The Pain” is 100% enticing and an excellent first impression of their new EP.
Now…I don’t wanna say that Hooyoosay is skating by on charm & musicianship alone for this next cut called “I Am The Beggar” – but if I’m being real with ya, that IS the case. Here’s what I mean, and here’s why this works so well: this is about as solid of a case for making the old new again as you can possibly make it, and the writing in this track is so subtly brilliant that it raises the level of appeal in this track to stunning heights. In many ways, “I Am The Beggar” is borrowing a whole lot from the tried & tested good ol’ Blues-standards – but it’s HOW Hooyoosay uses this influence to their advantage that really makes the impact. If they had played this straight-ahead, and just let the Blues be the Blues & didn’t find a way to give this a twist of their own…I’m honestly not sure how I would have felt about it overall. I’m positive I still would have loved the instrumentation, because this is a talented crew of musicians in Hooyoosay, and they always manage to flex that muscle organically in wildly enticing ways unique to themselves. I suppose what I’m really saying is – will ya LISTEN to these words? Amazing stuff is happening here. Hooyoosay is just lookin’ for a lil’ love – can you blame them? Certainly you can relate in some way. Hopefully you’re not getting “beaten up after dark” like the main character of “I Am The Beggar” is while he’s roaming the streets out there just tryin’ to secure a bit of romance – but you never know, maybe you are, or maybe you have been; one way or the other, you’ll likely find you relate to a lot of this song in the strangest of ways. Hooyoosay has put real elasticity around this concept & idea, and there’s no reason that can stretch & expand to include YOU in the process, which it probably will. “I Am The Beggar,” you are the beggar, Hooyoosay are the beggars too – we’ve all been there at one point in time. “When I was a teen I never got the girls, but all other guys got plenty and more” ends up being one of several brilliant lines you’ll find throughout the quaint sway of “I Am The Beggar” – personality on the microphone leads the way to victory here on this cut if you ask me, but I’m certainly not complaining about just how stellar & tight the musicianship & instrumentation surrounding the vocals is either.
If you’re listening & paying attention to the lyricism of Had A Darker Day, you’ll find there’s a ton of clues as to what’s been pressing the minds of Hooyoosay in the words, even as the music continues to sparkle & bounce around them like everything’s all A-OK – and it makes for a seriously cool experience. While you’ll find more obscured & interpretive moments in the first two cuts, the middle track “If No One” lays out the reality in much more direct detail, targeting tangible specifics and asking the right questions about the mechanics of our society that still desperately need answers to this very day. They tackle subjects like economics, weaponry, the human spirit, war, climate change, life, love, and more – “If No One” ends up becoming quite the observatory & insightful cut when it comes right down to it. It’s another cut that uses contrast expertly to their advantage…it sounds like a verifiable musical-moment where people are gonna be dancing in the streets…but all like…from the perspective of someone like Wes Anderson or maybe even Charlie Kaufman. As in, it’s quite the woke tune when it comes right down to it, but also really artfully designed. Ultimately, you’ll find there’s plenty of justifiable reason for the uplifting spark in the vocals & music of this song…sure they’ll point out a lot of the deficiencies of our shared society and the way it’s all running, but this song also serves as a poignant reminder of what’s important, what we’re missing, and challenges us to be the solution to the problems we have. As far as its catchiness is concerned, or the universal level of appeal out there for y’all listening would be – I’d put this cut just a hair or two under what the effect of “Painkiller, Kill The Pain” likely has in terms of getting your attention…but not by much. It’s definitely another single-worthy candidate, but also with respect to the values that are clearly important to Hooyoosay displayed throughout the lyrics of “If No One,” it’s also a great representation of Hootheyare too. See what I did there? Words are fun!
I think there’s gonna be a great chance a lot of people really love what’s been created on “Having A Darker Day.” Vocally, there are some remarkable similarities between Hooyoosay and Alt-J when it comes to how this song is paced-out & the expressive emphasis is applied to the words along the way. This fourth cut from the EP is unapologetically downtrodden in its mood, drowning in the confusion of its complex & unexplainable emotions pushing & pulling Hooyoosay in every direction until they’re just about to break. But therein lies the real secret folks; art & music can quite often become the saving grace you need the most…a reliable form of catharsis that both allows you to vent and simultaneously entertain, create, and add something into this world, as opposed to letting its weight come crashing down upon your shoulders to crush & devastate ya into oblivion. It might not always beat the tidal wave of depression that sometimes comes crashing down on us…but more often than not, you might actually find that a creative outlet can guide you through processing your thoughts & feelings far, far better than any licensed therapist ever could. Call me crazy, but I felt like this was a genuinely fascinating track; partly because I felt like this melancholic tune came from the strangest of sources to begin with, but also because the execution here is straight-up mesmerizing. When you talk about moments that hang in the air around ya, this is pretty much the very definition of what people mean – “Having A Darker Day” just seems to cloud the mood surrounding you, and as a result, you really feel the weight of the emotions on display here. It’s probably somewhat fair to say that, throughout the first three songs on this record, you experience a whole lot more contrast in between the upbeat vibes of the music and the complexity of the lyricism – and don’t get me wrong, that’s an aspect of music that’s always an asset to enjoy. That being said, hearing Hooyoosay take a moment on “Having A Darker Day” to spell it all out as plain as day, both musically and lyrically, even despite all the unknowns and apparent confusion, you’ll find this cut comes out impeccably focused and delivers on a consistently forlorn vibe that never breaks. I mean…like…if you’ve ever been depressed…if you’ve ever been in that moment where you just feel like everything around sucks and you can’t even explain why…this Bud’s for you. “Having A Darker Day” doesn’t make a remote attempt to hide its intense emotions, and nor should it – by the very nature of the lyricism and how spot-on it is for detailing feelings & thoughts like these, this song needed the devastating & weary vibe it has. Maybe I gravitate towards this kind of stuff on a personal level because I’ve got that inherent connection to depression & whatnot…or maybe it’s really just the incredible tune it seems to be – I’ll let you be the judge & jury on that, but for me, this was one of my favorites for sure.
“So We Said Goodbye” was an excellent inclusion and solid conclusion to this new EP by Hooyoosay. Choosing to go the instrumental route to finish it off in style, “So We Said Goodbye” is loaded up with the spectacular character & personality that Hooyoosay is well-known for putting into their tunes. For the musician crowd out there, you’re gonna absolutely LOVE the chops revealed here in this final cut – for what seems like it might be straightforward & simple, quite often becomes intricately complex for the briefest moments as the band expertly plays with timing, space, and pacing. This ended up reminding me a lot of the tiny instrumental moments you can find on what felt like every second record by R.E.M. back in the day, or now more famously chronicled for ya throughout their released archives – you’ll find tons of instrumental gems like “So We Said Goodbye” that are always reliable to turn up. What I love about this song is that Hooyoosay is really displaying a mastery of both their own musicianship and an even tighter grip on HOW we listen to music, by challenging what we know in spectacularly creative ways that’ll catch everyone’s attention. Essentially what I mean is, there’s an excellent chance that everyone out there will notice the shifts in the timing – the musicians out there will catch it right away and know exactly what they’re hearing is 100% purposeful and intended; but while the rest out there might question what they just heard for a second, that’s really all the shift will generally last for, and then Hooyoosay is instantly right back into highly accessible sound once again. So you see the trap being set here? They’ve found an incredible way to trick the average everyday listener into hearing something extremely cool & well-planned out in the structure & songwriting – even if they thought the whole timing thing was strange, Hooyoosay would already be onto something they’d love to hear in “So We Said Goodbye” and so quickly, that no one could even skip this cut ahead or turn the volume down fast enough in response, even if they wanted to! And of course, they shouldn’t – like I’ve been getting at here, I think this final instrumental is another gold gem on this album, and a really strong ending that finishes this EP conclusively in a way listeners will appreciate. “So We Said Goodbye” has just enough of an uplifting & inspired spark to it, that it leaves you knowing that Hooyoosay might have Had A Darker Day – heck, they might have had several like many of us have lately – but they can’t last forever. Eventually those clouds will subside & break into brighter days ahead…and it felt like this final instrumental moment was able to communicate that perfectly without needing a single word to do it.
Find out more about Hooyoosay at the official website here: https://hooyoosay.com
Listen to music by Hooyoosay at Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5Z2wCSxfDK6bz7YHlcuLH1
What kind of fun are we having next and who are we having it with? Need a video/audio post? Or how about an interview? Find a list of what we do at sleepingbagstudios and join the thousands of bands & artists we’ve featured by clicking here!