Jesca Hoop: Memories Are Now

Photo: Angel Ceballos

Assertive and eloquent, Jesca Hoop’s Memories Are Now should have no trouble retaining fans that know her for her previous work with Sam Beam.

Jesca Hoop

Memories Are Now

Label: Sub Pop
US Release Date: 2017-02-10
UK Release Date: 2017-02-10

Santa Rosa-born and raised singer-songwriter Jesca Hoop has never been one to shy away from the weird and wonderful. Embracing complex vocal harmonies and a lush mélange of offbeat instrumentation to develop an unusual form of beauty, all at once graceful and frenetic, has pretty much been Hoop’s billing from the start. This much evidenced in songs like “Summertime” and “Havoc in Heaven” from her 2007 debut album, Kismet. Even her non-musical past is laced with unconventional quirks, such as her odd-job as a nanny to Tom Waits’ children making for a story angle when promoters were initially working to get the ‘Hoop’ name on the rise.

All said, it is arguable that Hoop had never really gotten the fair shake for her work on even a national level before her work with Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam on 2016’s Love Letter For Fire. The album went on to get “Best of” nods from multiple publications, and the two had a pretty successful tour promoting their work together in the midst of following up their celebrated LP with the single “Milky Way”. It was a productive year for the duo before breaking off, back into their individual expenditures -- so much so that Hoop is coming into a new solo release with real momentum for the first time since she was known explicitly as “the singing nanny ex-Mo”.

Memories Are Now brings the idiosyncratic nature of Hoop’s original artistic design to the forefront with as much grace and freneticism as she has always born, although to a newly expanded audience and with a bit more production polish, to boot. Comparisons to First-Aid Kit are unavoidable given that right out of the gate, Hoop showcases her penchant for making vocal harmonies altogether outré and palliative on the album’s title track. Angelic and peculiar, “Memories Are Now” highlights Hoop’s masterful abilities as a songwriter to make the unusual feel comforting and familiar.

The same could be said of the rest of the album’s showings, as well. “Animal Kingdom Chaotic” highlights the aforementioned frenetic quality of Hoop’s work rather well, focusing on her several, sweeping vocal ticks that emit vibes as playful as they are post-apocalyptic. “Simon Says” will probably feel most familiar to her previous work with Beam, with its countrified back-and-forth reminiscent of the moods brought to the table by the rising trend of folk duos along the lines of Shovels & Rope. Elsewhere, “Pegasi” offers up a beautiful arrangement that is stirringly simplistic coming from a songwriter of Hoop’s eclectic pedigree. The song stands out as one of the album’s highlights, feeling almost cosmic in its vocal sincerity and the way that its arrangement ebulliently sways.

At once daringly astute and gleamingly sincere, assertive and eloquent, Hoop’s Memories Are Now should have no trouble in picking up those fans who just recently hopped on board during her outing with Beam and running with them. Memories Are Now is a prime showing off what those who have followed Hoop for the past decade or more have already known, albeit with some added miles on the road that have only made that musical mind of hers that much more brilliant.






A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.


Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.


PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.


'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.


Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.


Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.


Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.


Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.


Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.


Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.


'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.


Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.


Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.


Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.


The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.