• About A Band: Hoops

    Photos by Anna Powell Teeter

    Front-to-back, Hoops’ self-titled EP, their debut for Fat Possum, takes less than 20 minutes to listen to. Each of the collection’s five tracks, available August 26, are concise and riff-heavy, with looming intros and understated melodies that crest like waves and repeat again, only a few measures per phrase.

    The Bloomington, Indiana band that was once a solo project of vocalist and primary songwriter Drew Auscherman and is named after the hoop houses in the greenhouses where Drew worked as a teen, but draws on many influences. Guided By Voices and Cleaners From Venus were both driving forces behind Hoops’ early releases, lo-fi assortments titled “Tape #1,” “Tape #2” and “Tape #3” which featured hazy, guitar-led dream pop with Drew’s vocals as a deep anchor to the upper register guitar voicings.

    He also took a hint from Fergie's "Glamorous." 

    “I was like, ‘I want to use this chord progression because it sounds cool,’ so I did,” he says of the singer's huge pop hit. “It’s not a really complex, intense chord progression. I heard it on the radio one day and I was like, ‘Oh, I can make something that sounds like this but also like a Hoops song.’”

    It's a science, writing a great pop song. The first chorus should hit early on — and it should be catchy. The track should be fairly short and harp on a relatable emotion: anticipation, excitement, love and heartbreak being common themes.

    On the surface, it may not seem like Hoops write these kinds of pop songs, but if you ask Drew, the band's releases maintain the same succinctness and timbre as those that live on the Top 40 (massive hook or not). The self-titled release features the same kind of  hazy, sanguine arrangements and slippery guitar licks as bands like Wild Nothing, early Real Estate, and Porches. Rounded out by bassist Kevin Krauter, drummer James Allen, and guitarist Keagan Beresford the group is a formidable addition to that current indie-pop scene.

    Lyrically, Hoops’ sentiments echo the pop mantra. “You look at me as if you thought I was cool, too,” Drew signs on EP opener “Cool 2.” “Try to understand what’s going on / I can’t believe that you’re still going strong,” a lyric midway through the EP on “Going Strong.” There’s ambivalence, though with enough elevated expectation — they’re lyrics you relate to when you have a crush, and what more popular feeling is there?

    Then again, you shouldn't stifle the pop song to cutesy behavior only. Pop songs can be used as vehicles for social change and empowerment. Drew cites Blood Orange as one of the cross-over artists managing this in a big way right now. 

    “People associate pop with simplicity, but [Blood Orange is] using pop as a platform to take this huge message in culture and condense them into pop songs and get people to listen and tap their foot to it and think about what he’s actually saying to them,” he explains. 

    A firm believer in the power of pop — and its ability to both entertain and inform — Drew stands by his love of the genre, unabashed by its all-encompassing and wide-reaching capability. 

    “People want to classify stuff as ‘indie pop’ or ‘chillwave’ or whatever people are calling stuff,” he says. “But at the end of the day, it’s just a pop song.” Listen to five of Hoops best right now. 

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