There’s a certain intimacy one can only get from indie records. It’s like reading into someone’s diary or getting a first-person view of their thoughts. As you digest the material, you can guarantee that what you’re hearing was carefully curated and produced directly from the source, with minimal interference from big suits chasing big trends for stacks of cash. This is why the DIY approach to music still captures the hearts of many listeners and will still live on long after mainstream trends have faded and are replaced with the next big thing.
Special Moves, the Olympia, Washington based ‘open-source’ band led by Joshua Hoey embodies this DIY spirit to its fullest and even adds his own twist to it. By collaborating with multiple friends and like-minded strangers, he not only shares his own voice to his songs but also freely invites others in, even encouraging them to infuse their own styles. The result is a dynamic record that captures a whole community. Their latest LP Little Help, consists of 10 tracks at 20 minutes and leans into the finest of 90’s indie pop and rock.
Fuzzed out guitars, hazy vocals, scrappy drum kits with crashing cymbals as well as synths beats with pulsing drum machines fill out the soundscapes of Little Help. There’s a mix of bedroom pop and garage band in its production, where acoustic instruments go in harmony synths and even iphone apps. Top that with lyrics filled with introspection, childhood memories and nostalgia and you have the perfect mixing of 90’s indie pop with modern songwriting sensibilities.
The opener “Our Summer”, with its pounding drums and grungy guitars invites a warm and playful feeling as it pays homage to a season you wish would never end. “Thank U Pile of Cdrs” sings about rifling through an old collection of CDs from your childhood and reflecting on how these have helped shape you as a person. “I’ve Got It + It’s Not Worth Having” is a more melodic take on a classic from Boyracer (one of our favorites), who’s large catalog of die-hard DIY songs through the years has undoubtedly helped shape Hoey’s approach to writing and releasing music.
.My highlights for this album are the deeper cuts. “U Never Went Away” is grungy and coarse, which feels more like a hazy memory than a noisy punk track. In it Hoey reflects on the past and the need to go out of your comfort zone. In the next track “Ur Not Wrong” he sings: “Life goes on long after the thrill has gone”, over blooming vocal harmonies and glittering guitars. Something that led me to stop what I’m doing to just sit down and reflect. Little Help is humble, grounded, and thoroughly profound. A recommended listen for anyone looking for heartfelt indie gems..