Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Early last week, a photograph on the front page of the New York Times showed the skyline of Los Angeles, California, from slightly above, on level with the tops of the highest buildings. Just behind those buildings, up on the surrounding mountains raged those scary and damaging wildfires that seem to find extra lives, like Mario or Luigi cracking bricks with their heads find them, continuing to tick and rampage across the dry grounds and forested areas, taking hundreds of homes and firefighters with its deadly stroll. The fires in the photo were eye-popping and terrifying in their height and in their glare. They had nothing but hot evil on their minds and it appeared that everyone was in danger of being smoked and burnt completely out of the picture, sent screaming and running into the ocean, with their knuckle hair and eyebrows singed off. The Brooklyn band Hopewell, pulls off a stirring accompaniment to those wildfires, which have become such a summer and autumn tradition in California and Arizona. It's music for the viewing of such magnificent tragedies that are so easily set into motion, ignited into realism, yet are tamed or curtailed so impossibly. The roaring and chiming guitars and the pulsing vocals of Jason Russo, provides such burning bolts of continuous smoldering - as the heat builds, wanes, ashes and then tokes back up into its most heartened form before eventually coming into contact with a foil. Hopewell, hand-picked by Wayne Coyne and the rest of the pride of Oklahoma City - the Flaming Lips - to play in their personally curated All Tomorrow's Parties showcase this weekend in Monticello, New York, is mindful of this overwhelming feeling of displacement of self and the way that its actions are seldom not perpetrated by powers outside of one's own control. It's as if wildfires and ground tremors, or surprise wind storms that knock the power out and shift homes upon their foundations, are drawing themselves more elusive bodies and working outside of their normal strictures. They've costume-changed themselves into affectations that can alter moods and the people they belong to - into heightened positions of drama and fear - bringing these end of time scenarios that feel disciplinary, but still manage to get the blood racing and the sweat popping out of the pores in a way that isn't all that displeasing. The songs on "Good Good Desperation," the band's latest on Tee Pee Records are rife with moments that make you feel as if you are in touch with the camera's lens in that photograph of the burning trees in the mountains of California, zeroing in on civilization for a stand-off, taking it all in and only feeling slightly afraid of what's next, mostly just sitting there in awe of the brute force. It might be that good, good desperation that would make a plundering or a praising seem like one and the same, as if conventions and odds, gentility and fussiness have just been shot down and there's no need to get too over-alarmed by what's to come next. It may be a good show - or as good as you're gonna see before the fires find your house for a final gobbling and goodbye to you.
Hopewell Official Site
Tee Pee Records