23 Feb 2016

Family Scraps - a tender, beautiful Hookworms solo project

In 2013 and 2014, Hookworms released 2 tyrannical records of thrashy noise-rock, punctuated in part by the speed-injecting organ-work, distorted wailed vocals and recording technique of frontman MJ. 2014's The Hum was our first ever Vapour Trail album of the year, and their 2013 debut is from where I take my twitter handle. But on frontman MJ's first foray into solo work since these records, under the alias Family Scraps removes the fields of reverb, and shifts focus onto tender lyrics and forlorn songwriting.

The one song unveiled from the project, It Follows, dropped today, and it's essentially a nugget of forlorn singer-songwriter work with just enough guitar wails and controlled feedback to allow you to still believe that this is the same guy that bellows out such bangers as The Impasse and Radio Tokyo. I don't know what I expected from this song, but it definitely moved me more instantly than any of the other songs Hookworms have put out (bar maybe the sophomore album's sighing Off Screen),

The track starts with a lot of focus on the vocals, forlorn and downtrodden, and wilting instrumentation. For a period, it does really remind me of Elliott Smith, or some of the bloody sad Mogwai songs; it has a really select mood to it that would probably mean that it fit nicely into my record collection already. But in a way that's kind of really quite unique, refined and subtle, as the song goes in, elements of the noise-rock and psychedelia that Hookworms are masters of filter and waft in. There's guitar squalls that sound like the title track from the Slowdive EP, and some feedback roars that sound like some of the most furious Sonic Youth tracks (albeit here, it's much deeper in the mix).

It Follows is obviously a really personal song to MJ, or Family Scraps, and it's genuinely a very touching number that I can imagine adding to playlists with such forlorn favourites as Elliott, Low and Codeine, and I feel like "I'd put this on one of my forlorn playlists" is about as high as praise gets. It's not too often that I leave my first few listens of someone from a band I love's solo project really desiring more, but I'd love to hear a whole album of this - big up MJ, and I can only hope for more of this OR more Hookworms stuff in the very near future.

(written by calum cashin)