Hoy – S/T


When someone writes, records, and produces all of his own songs and also plays all of the instruments on an album, respect and awe from listeners are expected and appropriate. When the music sonically appeals to you regardless of the considerable aforementioned skills, the result is even better. Such is the case, for the most part, with Hoy’s self-titled debut album. I presume Greg Hoy’s last name does not carry a silent “h,” but I like that the names of both artist and album mean “today” in Spanish. It gives Hoy an extra urgency and contemporary spunk.
“Tested By History” is a good opener, especially since the first 15 seconds of the track give the impression that this will be a more mellow sing-song album. Forget it. “Tested By History” soon shifts to a classic power-pop structure with loud guitars and sharp lyrics: “So the clock hides its face and the cuckoo flies away / Its time so desperately gone.” The pounding drums and crunching guitars that precede the verbal elements of “Pale” recall the instrumental beginning of the superb “Scenario” by Dramarama. Hoy amusingly references pop culture in the song with the lines, “Thinking that you’re Charles Bukowski / But it’s more the Big Lebowski.”
Night owls and late sleepers should love “Beep Beep Snooze,” which tears down all nobility associated with rising early and spiritedly embracing the day at dawn. Hoy’s synthesizers sound very early 80s on “Beep Beep Snooze,” and the track could be mistaken for an unreleased song by The Vapors. “The Optimistic Optometrist” is quiet and reflective, with the witty chorus: “Don’t you know they got it all wrong / And the answer’s in a pop song / And the light that’s shining down / Is just a jewel in a broken crown.” While “No Secrets Now” continues Hoy’s pleasing power-pop and runs a short course, “All Fall Down” is harder, but it lacks the melodic edge of earlier tracks. This is the album’s notable disappointment, especially among a batch of almost a dozen invigorating pop rockers.
“So Not You” features a roller-coaster ride of guitar paces, rhythms, and beats, with Hoy sounding elevated and distant at times but grounded with sincerity in other parts of the song. “Ties That Bind” runs with the guarded pessimism of “So Not You” in a more subdued melody and repetitious guitar playing through most of the track. “Plenty” drags a bit, but Hoy’s pop culture references (Procol Harum this time) and warm backing vocals save the long affair. The album’s closer, “The Prize,” is a mish-mash of styles, influences, and sonic components – consider XTC’s humorous “History of Rock & Roll” when you listen to “The Prize” – that suffers with the distorted vocals but is saved by Hoy’s outstanding guitar work. Hoy’s guitar solos are excellent and project passion for his music. Unappealing vocals aside, “The Prize” is a soaring winner.
On his self-titled debut album, Hoy has created, recorded, and performed two handfuls of power-pop tracks with instrumental elements of the 70s, 80s, and 90s and surprising, delicious lyrical pop culture references. The first half of the album is stronger than the final five tracks, and there is greater exuberance in the opening songs. However, the album has a lot going for itself, as does its originator. Hoy should please many power-pop fans, especially those who got into the genre over the last decade through some of its revivalists.