Monday, June 22, 2009

Hopewell - Stranger

(Priapus, 1997)

Like many people, I imagine, I first got into Hopewell through the Mercury Rev connection – frontman Jason Russo and his brother Justin were in the Rev touring band through the late ’90s – but, while it’s easy to pigeonhole the dudes based on their family tree, it’s important to recognize FULLY that this here is no mere JV/little-sib music-making outfit. In fact, Hopewell, excellent from day one, has actually managed to improve over the years while Mercury Rev has descended further and further into squeaky-voiced, nature-obsessed, pentagram-wearing new-age nonsense. In the bands earliest incarnation, it was dealing in loud and heavy yet melodic spacerock, like if the guitar-crazy Priest Driven Ambulance-era Flaming Lips took a more stoned and deliberate approach to their tape-saturation head-music. “Stranger,” a single taken from the band’s first album, gallops and clangs, the crisp drumming and tasteful keyboard calling to mind Saucerful of Secrets, albeit with much added aggression in the guitar-roar. The moaning, late-night acoustic cover of “Paranoid” flirts with novelty territory, but it’s a creepy enough stripped-down rethink and thus avoids such a knock. It’s puzzling that the band has seemingly written this initial phase out of its official history (their website, before disappearing, listed nothing prior to 2001’s The Curved Glass in the discography); there’s a lot of great music on these early, spaced-out records, and their continued scarcity is a shame.


ithinkihatemy45s said...

Apparently Hopewell has re-recorded "Stranger" for their new album. Weird!

marc said...

First let me say I truely loved my time in Hopewell. I also still really enjoy the music and do my best to turn people on to them every chance i get .


There are 2 people that seem to get left off the family (Recording) tree of Hopewell. First is Reno on Bass. In fact Jay Merritt was our practice bassist (not a slam, Jay M and I go WAY back). Reno was a damn busy guy. Not to Mention a bloody good bassist and a great person (as all of them are).

The Second one left out of the mix is the DJ. Yes Hopewell had a DJ in it. I also did all of the live sound engineering at the same time. It was a lot of work but when the mix was on it was all worth it.

Thanks for listening. Its been a long time coming and even if no one ever reads this, its ok. Oh one last thing They spelled my bloody name wrong in the liner notes for "Contact". Its spelled with a C damn it!!!

The new version of stranger is good but just not the same with out me mixing in the church bells to the baseline. Yes Reno was that tight of a bassist that I could beat match and ride the mix for quite some time.

And another tid bit for ya:

"paranoid" was recorded using a simple 4 track, and my turntables in Jays front room of his apartment on south cherry street.

That song was always my personal fav to space out to and have mixed it into extended ambient sets that I did many moons ago.

DJ Marc (see a C)