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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Joe Tripp and the Hops - 6 Songs

Joe Tripp and the Hops - 6 Songs

2014, Joe Tripp and the Hops

When we last heard from The Hops it was 2011 and they were promoting their EP Won’t It Be Fun.  With an interesting sound built around instrumental interplay, the band was going somewhere.  They went on to be named one of Chicago’s top bands in 2012 (Illinois Entertainer), as well as garnering Best Indie Rock song (“The Walk”) on in February, 2012.  In the time since, The Hops have undergone a major personnel transformation, with original vocalist/bassist Patrick Tinning and guitarist Cullin Kress (Endeavor) departing.  Drummer TJ Walker met up with Joe Tripp, and the two have carried on as Joe Tripp and the Hops, and have a new EP entitled 6 Songs. 

The EP takes flight with "Signs", an energetic mess of funk, pop and classic rock. The full bodied sound could be cleaned up a bit, but there's an exuberance in the music that makes this easy to overlook.  The vocals are layered with distortion and effects, which detracts from the enjoyment a bit, but on the whole it's a solid start. "Let Go" is a fit-to-form pop song with Lo-Fi sensibilities and a wonderfully variable rhythm structure. Joe Tripp and the Hops slow things down for the pining ballad "Heart Cries Out". The vocals are a bit rough here, and combined with the pacing make this a bit of a challenge for the listener. The pace picks up on "There's Something", a catchy, rough-hewn rocker with a memorable chorus. "Who Knows" suffers from its own pacing and a lack of precision in both the lead and harmony vocals. There's little in the way of tonal cohesion here, and there's little effort for the vocalists to sing together. 6 Songs winds down with "Fantasma", 'a catchy rocker that perhaps should have led off the EP. Your feet will move of their own volition.

Joe Tripp and the Hops show a wonderful pop sensibility on 6 Songs, but struggle with issues of production and vocal tone. This is not an issue of talent but of training and is easily addressed. The music is enjoyable, and the vocal lapses aren't as much of an issue in the upbeat tunes, but the ballads greatly expose this weakness however, and may turn some listeners away.  This obviously isn’t the same band that rocked the Chicago Region in 2011-2012 but there’s still some great potential here.  

Rating:  3 Stars (Out of 5)

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