Buttressing the fragile ego of every vainglorious lead singer is the quiet and capable sideman. It’s a trope as old as rock ’n roll itself—John Paul Jones, John Entwistle, George Harrison, et al.
For the better half of the past decade, Mayhaw Hoons has been one of Portland, OR’s most coveted and distinctive sidemen, earning his stripes as a member of local luminaries The Shaky Hands and the Minders and currently serving as bassist in Horsefeathers and Kyle Craft’s band.
While Hoons has been writing and demoing songs privately for as long as he’s been playing music, he didn’t have a bona fide vehicle for his songwriting until forming Spookies—a washed-out power-pop band that released the VCR EP in 2013 to massive local acclaim.
Lime Green, the new solo mini-LP from Hoons, sees the singer-songwriter working in a markedly different paradigm. Produced by Dustin Dybvig (Talkdemonic, Sallie Ford)—who also played drums and a variety of other instruments on the record—Lime Green sounds like an alternate reality in which John Lennon was never assassinated and lived through the first indie rock boom. The lush, twee instrumentation provided by Dybvig is the perfect counterbalance to Hoons’ relentless, lovelorn screech.
Lime Green isn’t just exceptional for its musicality. Hoons is one of the most unflinchingly direct lyricists in Portland, and every song on the album is an aperture into his tattered heart. Songs like “Revenge” and self-explanatory centerpiece “Anorexic Again” are as attractive as they are repellent—these are confectionery train wrecks in the tradition of depressed pop bards like Mark Linkous, Chris Bell and Elliott Smith. Some great art is designed to make you feel like shit.
Lime Green may be the first official release under Hoons’ name, but these songs are the work of an artist at the top of their game. “Don’t forget me,” Hoons pleads in the song “Gangland”. It’s not as easy as he thinks.