Tag Archives: hood

HOOD: Silent ’88 (LP, Slumberland SLR 59, 1996)

Hood - Silent '88

Hood always felt very much like an English band – specifically, Northern English. Their songs had a gritty, blurred, romantic, hopeful and bleak combination of things going on. For a while, it seemed like they were on their way to becoming a bit of a Big Deal; Silent ’88 represents their ‘let’s break America’ album, in as much that it was released on the always excellent Slumberland Records. They went on to sign to Domino, play All Tomorrow’s Parties, gather a growing amount of positive vibes from around the globe before… fading away. How appropriate for a band that felt like they were documenting thoughts and memories, rather than contributing to an overall grand plan either within their own minds or within a wider context.

Slumberland, by the way, are a great American label, having released hundreds of records with a discography that stretches way back to the late 1980s. They’ve released Velocity Girl, Black Tambourine, Stereolab, Lilys, Boyracer, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Crystal Stilts and, well, endless lists’ worth of good stuff. They were always plugged into the rich underground world of pop-influenced independent music; and in fact they still are, as they remain active to this day. Their priorities were often right; for example, the rear sleeve of Silent ’88 includes the message “thanks for buying this record on vinyl”. There are treats within, as the sleeve not only includes the album, but also an A4 photocopied insert and a four-track 33rpm 7″ single.

There’s no credit given for the sleeve or insert artwork, but I’d hazard a guess that they’re at least in part due to Hood mainmen (and brothers) Chris and Richard Adams. Throughout their career Hood’s artwork maintained a strong feeling of mystery and a conscious air of DIY – from the hand-coloured artwork of early releases to their last, which still used the familiar Hood logo, photographs taken by band members, and hand-scrawled/typed track listings and notations. That hand-scrawled writing was in the familiar handwriting of Richard Adams, who was an active participant in the vibrant 1990s fanzine/letter-writing/tape-and-record-exchanging scene and from whom I received many letters.

Some great song titles on this album, by the way: “Trust me, I’m A Stomach”; “Delusions Of Worthlessness”; “Smash Your Head On The Cubist Jazz”; “Being Beaten Up”.

Links: Hood / Slumberland Records

HULA HOOP/HOOD/BLAIRMAILER: 3 Band Flexi With… (7″ flexi, Tangled TANGLED 006, 1993)

Flexis are cool. People don’t make them that much any more, as far as I know. Maybe it’s difficult to make them these days. Maybe I should investigate, and if I can, just make a flexi for the hell of it. And hey, if I did, it might be like this one, as it’s a good one. Not only does it involve Hood, everybody’s favourite band that nobody has heard of but who are really very good indeed, but also Hula Hoop, who I remember did an excellent split album with Boyracer, and Blairmailer, who I  remember were something of a big (indie) deal in Australia in the early nineties.

This flexi came free with a fanzine called Open Your Eyes, amongst other things – back in the crazy early nineties there were all kinds of hook-ups and cross-promotional activities going on, with flexis being given out free with several fanzines, fanzines given out free with flexis, and so on. That fanzine was very, very well written and I distinctly remember it as being the first place I ever read the phrase ‘post-rock’. This may not mean much now, as the phrase is attached in one way or another to pretty much every independent band that doesn’t sound like Coldplay of the past ten years. But it was a strange and mysterious new phrase back then – which I think was attached to not what you might expect (the often-referred to as ‘slowcore’ of Slint, Codeine etc) but instead to the gliding modern swoops of Trans Am and the noisy tension of Rodan. Actually, Rodan were kind of post-rock-meets-slowcore, but there I’ll end my categorisations before I tie myself in pointless pigeonholing knots.

I’ve actually got several copies of both Open Your Eyes and the associated Hula Hoop/Hood/Blairmailer flexi – for reasons I can’t exactly remember; but very possibly due to my vague plans once to act as an independent distributor and hence buy in several copies of a thing in order to sell it on (for no profit, by the way) after that. Anyway. If anybody reading this wants a copy and can stump up a couple of quid to cover postage, let me know, and I’ll ‘hit you up’ as they say.

HOOD: A Harbour Of Thoughts (7″, Orgasm SPASM 08, 1995)

Hood: A Harbour Of Thoughts

On the insert that comes with this photocopied-sheets-hand-pasted-on-sleeve record, it states ‘Theres [sic] plenty more where this came from’ before giving the band’s contact address. They’re certainly not kidding – in the early days of their career, Hood put out a relentless stream of music on all kinds of labels and formats. I was always impressed that from their very first record onwards, they kept the same scratchy, now-familiar Hood logo. It’s not so much that I’m advocating some kind of cynical band branding exercise; it’s more that to me this consistency suggested an attention to detail that respected not only the variety of labels they were working with (the record we’re doing with you is equally as important to us as any of our releases) and the listener (we take care over our art; so much so that we insist on quality control all the way through to the presentation of our band name).

Orgasm, as memory serves, was a French label, tight-knit with the scene that built up around Hood/Boyracer/Leeds/Spofforth Hill. It was always exciting sending off some coins, taped down to a piece of card, to a mystery address, and eagerly awaiting a record/fanzine to appear in the mail a few days later. It was even more exciting to be doing this stuff on a country-to-country level. I wonder how much the mainstream press and larger labels were (indeed, still are) aware of the amount of industry and contact-building that was going on ‘under the ground’ (as Slampt once put it)? I used to regularly correspond with people across the globe – sending music and letters back and forth over many years – and thinking back, can’t believe the amount of time I used to dedicate to this stuff. Now and then, years later, I re-establish contact with some of these old pals, via Facebook or whatever. It’s nice.

HOOD: Rustic Houses Forlorn Valleys (LP, Domino WIGLP42, 1998)

Hood - Rustic Houses Forlorn Valleys

To my recollection this was Hood’s first ‘big time’ release, marking their shift from sporadic flurries of records coming out of tiny microlabels in bagged, hand-folded sleeves to a proper, ‘real’ label. (Bear in mind that in the spectrum of labels releasing Hood’s work, Domino were and remain independent yet Geffenesque in scale compared to earlier labels that they worked with). The Hood ‘aesthetic’ was all over this album – the record’s title creating some kind of Lakes village mystery, the grainy photographs of nothing that mask some unimagined tension and dread, and the insert contained within that, despite the run on this release being in the thousands rather than the hundreds, contained the band’s actual address as a means to contact. Since the early ’90s Spofforth Hill in Wetherby has seemed a mystical place to me, being the place from which both Hood and Boyracer – both long-term favourites of mine – originally appeared, and a road to which I sent countless letters back in the day when we all used to correspond through the mail.

This Wetherby contingent – very recently celebrated on a new release from Boyracer founder Stewart Anderson’s 555 label – got involved with a lot of musicians and artists as time went by. Looking at the few names mentioned on the insert for this record we’ve got Matt Elliot (Flying Saucer Attack, Third Eye Foundation), Richard Formby (producer to everybody from Spacemen 3 to Telescopes to a billion other acts) and Nicola Hodgkinson (Empress) – just a tiny glimpse into a network of friends and collaborators that sprang up around Hood, Boyracer and their associated ilk.

I was going to write about what a shame it is that Hood never became really big, and that they never seemed to break out of an in-the-know circle of people (admittedly, a pretty large circle) – they’re certainly good enough and have put in enough years of effort to warrant some kind of real recognition. But then again, maybe it’s not a shame? It’s always good to have a band or two who never ‘cross over’, who don’t become something they never hinted at becoming in their earlier days. Like the mysterious images on their record sleeves, Hood were then and still are a mysterious band, and one that you need to investigate and work with to get the most out of.