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AAA Music | 29 January 2020

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Velcro Hooks – Gymnophoria

| On 19, Nov 2012


There has been a healthy, developing indie noise scene in the US for some time now, while it feels like we have been experiencing some kind of blip in UK alternative music of this sort. Over the last year, however, UK indie noise bands have started emerging from the basements with a collective sense of urgency, propelled by forward-thinking DIY labels such as Howling Owl Records.

This label’s latest release comes courtesy of Bristol four-piece Velcro Hooks, a new garage punk band they have thus far shunned any publicity, preferring to stay hidden in those basements. That’s all changed now, thanks to this debut EP ‘Gymnophoria’ – seven tracks of blistering post-punk indie, grungy noise pop and borderline post hardcore.

Opener ‘A Love Song For T.S. Eliot’ is the most “indie” song of the collection, with an eerie spoken word verse recalling The Velvet Underground and a melodic chorus recalling The Strokes. ‘Wasabi Colonel’ offers more of the same alt-rock, with grumbling bass and tripping drums, while ‘Wildman’ is a sharp melodic punk song, with angst-ridden vocals, catchy bass and jangly fretting. After the Lynchian interlude ‘The Prerogative of Daniel Porter’ comes what is arguably the stronger half of the EP. ‘Girlfren’ is indie-pop tune with pressing spoken vocals, and a structure that spend the first 70% of the track building for a crushing 20 second QOTSA ending, then ‘Yesterday’s Man’ provides Velcro Hook’s ballad-like moment, with a slower pace and more Stokes-esque indie melodies and guitar lines. As is always the case with indie noise releases, the EP highlight is the closing tracj – ‘Grandpa, No’ – a sprawling, indie-grunge fusion with a melodic first half that seamlessly escalates into a noisy, post hardcore finish with slacked riffs and yelped vocals.

The guitars of Velcro Hooks are rough and distorted, the frontman’s vocals spit with attitude, and the rhythms are dirty and beefy. Although they take a lot of inspiration from classic alternative bands like The Pixies and Velvet Underground, they have more in common with punk-indie crossover bands like Cloud Nothings and Mazes. Heavy and hectic, but deeply melodic, ‘Gymnophoria’ is a triumph for the kick-started UK alternative scene. One of the debuts of the year…

Clive Rozario