Release Date: Apr 2, 2013
Record label: Gringo Records
Hookworms are a five-piece from Leeds who’ve cultivated a strong aesthetic built on independent values and ethics and a desire to focus strictly and purely on sound and the power of the music. They are entirely gimmick free and shun any sort of facile expression. For Hookworms, transcending the mundane through sound is all that matters. The lengths that the band go to in an effort to avoid pandering to an obsessive culture built on personality includes only using their initials and not divulging their names.
Perfection can be defined in many ways. The process of improving something until it is flawless. A paragon of excellence. A definitive end state that could not be bettered. The highest degree of quality. Unimpaired. Complete in every sense. An ideal instance. Sublimity. Preciseness. The highest ….
Not until two minutes into eight-minute opener ‘Away Towards’ does the mist start to lift. Then: whoosh! A swirl of Primal Scream psychedelia played by five men from Leeds, over which singer MJ (Hookworms like to be known by their initials) gives it the full Bobby Gillespie. This record is not the sunburnt wooze of Tame Impala: it’s angrier, colder.
Hookworms’ seething energy made them one of the most spirited and enjoyable acts to watch at this year’s Latitude Festival. It was an intense experience seeing the Leeds-based collective apply such savage pressure to their audience with rip-roaring blasts of static discharge, powering through a rampant set at one of the most laid back, family-friendly music events of the summer. Although the group was very much in sync, each member seemed driven by lead vocalist MJ, who was given a wide birth as his passion spilled out over the stage amid crazed shouting and wild fists in the air.
Anyone who has seen Hookworms live knows that they are an enervating, entrancing, life-enhancing experience. The Leeds quintet create hypnotic, cathartic, discombobulating dance music through a disorienting combination of echo-swamped vocals, garage bred organ, fuzz-blitzed wah-wah guitars and constantly driving rhythms. It just sounds like so many rock & roll clichés on paper, but these unassuming young men who rarely remove their coats and insist on only being known by their initials somehow make it completely new.
The title ‘Pearl Mystic’ may make this sound like a long forgotten Chapterhouse b-side, but Hookworms are gazing at the stars rather than their shoes. The Leeds five-piece combine psychedelia, krautrock and gonzo rock ‘n roll to unashamedly epic effect on this surprisingly immediate debut album which should see them promoted from gigs in the back rooms of pubs to within touching distance of the mainstream.Opening track ‘Away / Towards’ is an excellent indication of the thrills that await the listener. Guitar feedback drones over a prowling bass line while singer MJ (no names, just initials) screams and shouts way down in the mix - so far, so psych.
Leeds-based band’s new album delivers swirling psychedelia with contemporary bite. Ian Wade 2013 Leeds-based five-piece Hookworms have been tagged as part of a new psychedelic movement, alongside the likes of TOY. That they’ve toured with Wooden Shjips and Peaking Lights adds credence to the categorisation. Even Julian Cope has been moved to blog about them: "Do not miss this shoegazing Skynyrd, brothers'n'sisters," he wrote on the Head Heritage website.
Pearl Mystic is nothing if not testimony to a scene that has been residing indolently in the shadows of the prosaic indie bands from Leeds’ past; and right now it feels pertinent. While the city has had a relatively healthy amount of influential bands peering above the surface of success (Wedding Present, Gang Of Four, The Sisters of Mercy) it’s bands like Kaiser Chiefs and The Pigeon Detectives that have come to shape and contort West Yorkshire’s’ musical landscape. Beneath the colourless canvas of neo-Britpop drudgery lies a spirit and ethos of punk that can be found around the LS6 student district of Hyde Park, where bands such as Bilge Pump, Polaris and Brown Owl have contributed to the formation of Leeds’ DIY infrastructure, along with their contemporaries such as Cowtown and indeed Hookworms, the latter part of the new wave of psych-orientated bands currently cropping up all over the UK.