Tag Archives: Hoopla

Polyvinyl Records and LFPL

Polyvinyl Headquarters in Champaign, Illinois

Polyvinyl Records started circa 1995 and was explicitly connected to the blossoming “Midwest Emo” scene of the time. The founders were based out of Champaign, Illinois, which is exactly where the Kinsella family and others were creating this sound. Mike, Tim, and Nate Kinsella were all a part of music in the mid 90’s and would soon become the godfathers of Midwest Emo in bands like Cap’n Jazz, Joan of Arc, and American Football.

The Kinsellas weren’t the only ones contributing to this sound. Bands like The Promise Ring, Braid, and Rainer Maria come to mind as well. This was Emo music being made with similar DIY intent to what was happening in Washington D.C a few years prior (with bands like Rites Of Spring and Embrace), but with less fury and more melody; less drama and more nostalgia. This movement was also a bit before the mainstream Emo bubble of the early 2000’s (with bands like My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, and Paramore). Those efforts often had fancier production value and more boisterous attitudes than the 90’s Midwest Emo, but many of them cite the 90’s efforts as influences on their own sound.

A lot of labels helped kick start this side of the Emo scene, but Polyvinyl is where so many of these bands have called their home at one time or another, and thus Polyvinyl lives as a hub for this type of information. Today, Polyvinyl is as strong as ever supporting numerous bands and not all of them identify as Emo or even Emo-adjacent. They’ve supported Experimental and Indie Rock as well as Electronic and Folk, so to minimize their identity to specifically Emo would do them a disservice. So much of their roster are incredibly talented and, combined with their marketing skills and PR presence, they are one of my favorite record labels to explore.

Below, I’ll talk a bit about music that we offer that is published through Polyvinyl.

To put it lightly, Deerhoof are one of the greatest Rock bands of all time. I dare people to find valid arguments against this. The Magic released in 2016 and is their 14th out of 18 studio albums since 1996. With so many albums, our system doesn’t offer all of them, but this is my favorite from the selection. This band is unstoppable. They exude creative energy at all costs and make it look incredibly easy. Very quirky, very fun, very energetic, and superbly inventive songwriting. They intersect so many influences, but this is a Rock band at heart while sounding like no one else. I’m not kidding, they are one of the greatest Rock bands of all time. Go see them live sometime and you’ll know.

Shugo is a multi-instrumentalist with an affinity for whimsical song writing. I’d consider Shugo a folk musician, but the sounds he brings to his records are diverse. He routinely builds robotic instruments to play percussion or piano and employs numerous musicians to play things like accordions, kazoos, Theremins, or horns. On TOSS, Greg Saunier of Deerhoof is playing drums, connecting the Polyvinyl family members. Shugo is influenced by classics like The Beatles and The Beach Boys and makes those sounds very modern with heartwarming and fun soundscapes. There is even a track here that sounds like it came straight from a Tom & Jerry episode.

Owen is the solo project of Mike Kinsella. A lot of people that write off the Owen catalog as too simplistic, but I wonder if its my favorite material from Mike. Mike helped coin the Midwest Emo style in the 90’s and that is still present here, but its stripped back just enough to make something that is remarkably cleaner than a lot of Midwest Emo records. We offer a lot of Owen material, but I revisit At Home With Owen the most. I will admit, it is overly simplistic, but its emotional clarity has an easy time finding my soft spots. The album art is a tight fit as well: it’s peaceful, mysterious, and a little lonely. Wading through those emotions brings catharsis for me.

The further I research for this article, the more I realize just how much Polyvinyl music I listen to and consider important. If I go on much longer, this will take up too much space, so I’ll wrap up with a few more recommendations gauntlet style.

  • American Football by American Football – The quintessential Polyvinyl and Midwest Emo release. This album is the root structure from which most Emo Revival music branches from. If you listen to only a single Midwest Emo song, make sure it is Never Meant.
  • Time ‘N’ Place by Kero Kero Bonito – Kero Kero Bonito is half British and half Japanese and somehow sounds exactly like the combination of those scenes. This Pop music fits into the British PC Music crowd like Hannah Diamond and GFOTY, but also the J-Pop classics like Perfume and CAPSULE.
  • [USA] by Anamanaguchi – This is their most recent album where they have evolved to their most mature form. This band combines chiptune and Nintendocore with traditional rock instrumentation for 8-bit fueled Rock epics. Extremely colorful, bright, and dramatic. Not a lot of bands out there keeping the chiptune vibe alive and these guys treat it with finesse and expertise.

Everything you see here (except a few) are accessible through our catalog! Just click on the links in each blurb and you’ll find them through Hoopla (or YouTube)! Here is a link to both a comprehensive list of Polyvinyl releases and their official website. Check out these lists for more great tunes.

— Reviewed by Noah, Bon Air

Meshuggah Comes to Hoopla!

Hoopla is consistently adding new music to their database and they make it very easy to find their newest additions through their Just Added collection. Miraculously, they update their catalog so frequently that I can hardly keep up with the content. The variety is also impressive, sharing some of contemporary music’s most beloved artists like Diana Ross or Rod Stewart and some more obscure titles that even Spotify doesn’t offer, like this neat Latin Pop outfit I discovered here called SuSu.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Hoopla had recently added almost everything from Meshuggah’s 30 + year career. Which is not only incredible because the music is some of the most well regarded for its style of Metal, but also because this music can be hard to find, despite its significant impact in the Metal scene. As an avid record collector, I’ve only come across Meshuggah material a couple of times out in the wild, and its usually expensive. Thus, LFPL’s CD collection does not offer any Meshuggah material for circulation, so Hoopla is the only place that our patrons can access Meshuggah music through our catalog!

Meshuggah tends to exist in their own little bubble amidst the Metal scene. They are one of the few Metal bands that can both be categorized as “Extreme Metal” or “Technical Metal” and still appeal to the pickiest of Metal snobs as well as general Rock music fans. They are known for pioneering and perfecting their style of groovy and complex Metal and continuously producing some of the best additions to this subgenre. There is a lot of debate about what exactly to label Meshuggah as, but the Rock and Metal worlds have landed on using the term “Djent” to describe their sound. “Djent”, resembling the guitar tones that are present in many of these songs, is used to express complex rhythmic structures accompanied by very angular, aggressive, compressed, and groovy guitar riffs. Some people bicker about the legitimacy of using the word “Djent” to describe this music, but if we are to assume this to be a part of the Metal subgenre lexicon, Meshuggah are the disciples of Djent, for better or for worse. So much so, that many other bands with similar intentions get written off as “Meshuggah rip-offs”, even with so many bands influenced by this approach. Bands like Car Bomb or Frontierer come to mind, but I like these bands as well.

Hoopla’s selection starts with their 1995 album, Destroy Erase Improve, and moves all the way through to their 2016 album, The Violent Sleep of Reason, for a total of 9 full length albums, a live album, and a compilation of Rare Trax. I’d try out one of their older releases like Chaosphere to grasp the 90’s energy in the more brittle production and also to recognize their development for a later release. Their early stuff is raw and sounds more like a device for shredding junk cars than their later material. I’d might try Koloss for something from the last decade with much more even production value and a hypnotic aura. Imagine a meditation soundtrack for the Metal Gods themselves. I think my favorite is still Catch Thirtythree, as this one weaves the entire album into a single track and has a slow burn that erupts by the end. Though, there isn’t a bad choice in the catalog and I’d recommend them all in no particular order

If you had to check out ONE thing from the band, watch the music video for New Millennium Cyanide Christ. If this doesn’t sell you on the band, I’m not sure what will. A classically hilarious portrayal of the band playing this song on their tour bus, but entirely with air instruments. A band with such a heavy and complicated sound that also knows how to not take themselves too seriously is so refreshing in the Metal scene.

Here is a link to everything that Hoopla offers in the Meshuggah collection, and here is a link to Hoopla’s collection of Hard Rock/Metal. Enjoy!

— Reviewed by Noah, Bon Air