U Ready Man? – Hobex
Tone-Cool/Artemis 751 145
Hobex is one of those bands that defies expectation by playing a
style that is often considered classic, or even dead: soul. Slow, thick soul
that could easily come from the Motor
City, and could easily be played by a band of older, more renowned,
The most crucial element to Hobex is that they never
seems to be in a rush. The tempos are all moderate, the grooves are laid
back and sublime. "You Ready Man" displays what Scott Joplin told us a
century ago: "Play it slow." The music isn't intended for Bonnie and Clyde
style chases through the countryside, it is the soundtrack to a convertible
trip on a sunny afternoon.
"Maybe It's Me" kicks the album off in fine style and allows the
listener to truly sink into the rhythm. Hobex uses simple yet effective tone
colors, including generous helpings of Hammond organ (the key to my heart.)
band sometimes wanders into Zappa-like interludes which can frustrate the
easy-going listener. As with any jamband, the music never seems to stay in
one place for too long. "So Far Away," has a faultless groove which is
interrupted by a towering, nearly heavy metal presence on electric guitar.
The composition gains creativity but loses momentum.
Unfortunately, the liner notes describe little about the band or its
instrumentation. I would be curious to see them live because I imagine a
lineup similar to that of Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise. A soulful
elderly front man backed by a neo-hippie college-aged band. The most
attractive part of Hobex live would be hearing the basslines in a fully
equipped club. Often, the bass brings out a nearly techno groove that is on
the thin line between club music and the intergalactic adventures of P-Funk.
Lyrically, Hobex is pretty damn boring. They overuse phrases like
"Playing games in my soul" to the point of irritation. Hobex suffers from
the common problem of great musicianship built on a hefty foundation of
jamming. Great songs come in at less than three minutes, and the converse is
One of Hobex's unique qualities is that they shy away from too many
guitar effects. The fuzz and wah colors are appreciated in a music that
seems locked in time. It is impressive to find guitarists who have control
of their instruments instead of their effects having control over the
U Ready Man is a worthy accomplishment for a up-and-coming band.
Hobex manages to deliver an authentic sound on a unique style that hasn't
been popular for quite some time. If you dig on silky, slow vibes on a
summer day, Hobex may be right for you. Of course, so may Al Green.