Hooton Tennis Club - Big Box of Chocolates

Big Box of Chocolates

Hooton Tennis Club

Available Formats No. of Tracks   Price Buy
12" Vinyl Album 12 tracks 18.99
CD Album 12 tracks 10.99
Download Album (wav) 12 tracks 8.99
Download Album (mp3) 12 tracks 5.99

Description

Hooton Tennis Club - Big Box of Chocolates

Hooton Tennis Club follow up last years critically acclaimed debut album 'Highest Point in Cliff Town' with 'Big Box of Chocolates.

Out via Heavenly Recordings on Friday October 21st.

Frostbite, outsider romance, bootcut-jeaned juveniles in the local discotheque, suburban femme-fatales, nature and nihilism, losing your tongue, losing your flatmates, finding joy in the small things…

A year on from their debut LP Highest Point In Cliff Town, Hooton Tennis Club return with Big Box of Chocolates – a dozen tracks that continue the band’s knack of combining catchy off-kilter riffs with droll storytelling. Like its predecessor, the album feels like a selection box of alt-rock short stories: fuzzy stompalong snapshots of life in the twenty-first century seen through the eyes of lads caught in the hazy Limbo of their twenties.
If Highest Point In Cliff Town was the band’s sprightly statement of intent, Big Box of Chocolates may well be their coming-of-age: a record that retains all the colour and invention of their debut, while being elevated by richer instrumentation and lyrics that hint at slightly heavier themes: love and loss, nihilism and the ‘non-spaces’ of Northern England, all delivered in the band’s typically laconic, bittersweet style, like a Mersey Beat Murakami.

The album’s narrators – vocalists and guitarists Ryan Murphy and James Madden – seem to straddle optimism and uncertainty with their lyrics, whether singing about their internal worlds or commenting on a motley cast of characters (Bootcut Jimmy, BBC 6Music presenter Lauren Laverne, Lazers Linda…) who turn up across the album’s 41 minutes to amuse, tempt or torment them. Whether fictional (the awkward genius Jimmy ‘looking shifty in his new shoes’) or real (Ryan’s ex-housemate immortalised in first single ‘Katy-Anne Bellis’), each character shares an equal platform, all revered in Hooton’s own low-key way, and exemplified in the jitterbugging ‘Statue of the Greatest Woman I Know’, the lyrics reading like a lost Richard Brautigan poem:

I painted the kitchen, I painted the top of the stairs,
So we can do our cooking in the kitchen before we go to bed,
Yes all that lovely cooking in the kitchen before we go to bed…
You remind me of the statue of the greatest woman I know,
You stand out in the rain, you stand out in the sun and the snow.

Formed in Cheshire in 2013, the band describes their hometown Ellesmere Port as ‘a bit like Springfield: just one main street with an oil refinery next to it’. The Simpsons reference is apt. There’s a disaffected cartoonishness to their music that perfectly reflects today’s post-post-industrial age: all service industries, cheap intoxicants, empty consumerism, digitised love and insecurity. And, like a lot of bands, they came together mainly as an antidote to small-town boredom.

Starting out with very modest ambitions, they began practicing in the high school music room, and continued conjuring up songs while they splintered off to different universities: chief vocalist/guitarist Murphy and drummer Harry Chalmers taking up Pop Music Studies at Liverpool’s John Moores, Madden painting at Manchester School of Art, and bassist Callum McFadden’s Bsc degree at Cardiff University leading to a full-time career in Marine Biology.

A lo-fi EP (‘I Was A Punk In Europe (But My Mum Didn’t Mind)’) caught the ear of The Farm’s Carl Hunter after radio airplay on BBC Introducing Merseyside, and he became a temporary mentor, releasing the first Hooton Tennis Club single proper – ‘Kathleen Sat On The Arm Of Her Favourite Chair’ – on his imprint as media lecturer at Edge Hill University, The Label. As the band explains: ‘Carl might just be the nicest man in the world. One of the first things he said to us was that he didn’t want us to be with him and The Label for long. His aim was always to push us onto the “next level” as quickly as possible.’

The step-up was swift. Hunter passed on Hooton’s music to Heavenly boss Jeff Barrett, who came up to see them play at Liverpool’s Sound City in 2014, at what was only the band’s second gig. Dryly considering themselves ‘nearly a band’ when signing an album contract with Heavenly, Hooton Tennis Club recorded Highest Point In Cliff Town with Bill Ryder-Jones at Parr Street Studios: an uplifting record that recalls Blur at their freest and most playful or a British provincial Pavement, ‘tumbled together’ from a decade’s worth of songs and snippets of ideas.

When it comes to songwriting, Madden recalls Arthur Russell’s mantra: ‘First thought, best thought’. They tend not to labour over recording demos or strumming and beating the life out of songs in the practice room – instead, ideas are allowed to form spontaneously: melodies are hummed into phones or computers, lyrics batted back and forth between Murphy and Madden, songs worked out alone in the bedroom, or layered up from scratch together in the studio. They talk of the joy of ‘catching yourself off-guard with ideas’ – and, by swapping Liverpool for the Scottish Highlands to record Big Box of Chocolates, they’ve been able to fully immerse themselves in the freedom and magic of the studio.

Produced with Edwyn Collins at the helm, Big Box of Chocolates took three weeks to record, the band taking up residency at Collins’ hometown Clashnarrow studio, near Helmsdale. ‘It could’ve been tense,’ they explain, regarding living on top of each other for the duration, ‘but it never descends from heated discussion into full-blown argument. It just shows that you are passionate about the music we are making. Also, when people got annoyed they could just go for a walk into the hills and be moody, windswept, and misunderstood for a bit. That always helps.’

They all grew beards, drank copious tea, became birdwatchers and whiskey tipplers – and the landscape influenced the music too, most clearly in Madden’s subconscious ramble in the middle-eight of ‘Bad Dream (Breakdown on St George’s Mount)’, recorded off-the-cuff while he contemplated the Moray Firth – or the moody, windswept opening lyrics of the title track:

I dream to be beside the ocean,
Watch the waves in motion,
And not get tongue-tied…

Musically, Hooton Tennis Club’s inspirations are diverse: Big Star, Leonard Cohen, Stereolab, Flying Burrito Brothers, Can, Lee Hazelwood, The Beatles (McFadden apparently becoming so obsessed with Abbey Road, he had to ask the others for help…). Elsewhere, they’re influenced by authors who deliver a ‘down and out skewed view of the world’ like Kurt Vonnegut, Hermann Hesse, Henry Miller: novels often centred around struggling artists or characters in the midst of an existential minefield. These same themes crop up in songs like ‘Bad Dream’ or ‘Growing Concerns’ (the stomping opener that aims to ‘capture the anxiety felt by twentysomethings’) but the angst is always tempered by a distinctly Northern self-deprecation, and likewise the band cite TV comedies like Seinfeld or It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia as an important antidote or counterpart to these heady, heavy novels.

As you’d expect from long-time schoolmates, the band have stayed grounded in the face of success and international recognition. Since Highest Point In Cliff Town was released, they’ve toured the UK and Europe, played countless festivals including Glastonbury and Green Man, five shows at SXSW, nine shows at CMJ New York – and refreshingly the new songs written for Big Box of Chocolates feel as personal, honest and unpretentious as ever. The band don’t feel they’ve made any conscious change to their approach, pointing out they’re ‘glad none of our second album songs are called “Highway”, “Travelodge”, “Pitta & Houmous Blues”, or “Soundcheck”.’

As Forrest Gump’s Momma said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get.’ At least with their Big Box of Chocolates, Hooton Tennis Club have removed some of this uncertainty. The elements that made their first album so engaging are here again in force – the youthful verve, the beautifully unsteady lyrics, their ear for unconventional riffs and melodies, and whip-sharp sense of humour – and it’s a treat to tuck in.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO 'BIG BOX OF CHOCOLATES' ON SPOTIFY

Reviews

‘With their second full-length, Merseysiders Hooton Tennis Club have expanded on what made their debut such a delight: taking a diary-style approach, penning songs about their own lives, and writing about their friends – fictional and real. Having their own quirky characters come to life through an effervescent brand of jangly-pop.”
★★★★ DIY MAGAZINE

“Feelgood poetic-pop narratives from the Wirral’s young quartet…The follow-up to their breezy 2015 debut is full of mid-placed songs of a Big Star bent that sounds positively effortless.”
★★★★ MOJO Magazine

“Big Box of Chocolates’ holds – a matured and smooth record full of sweet highs and refined bursts of frantic energy that builds and rejigs ‘Highest Point’s most fruitful moments."
★★★★ Dork Magazine

“A collection of luminous pop songs that truly lives up to it’s name and is simply a delicious treat.”
8/10 Louder Than War

“All in all, it’s a strong package – a band with personality, great songs, plus an endearing send of humour.”
Uncut Magazine

“Indie-rock, the way it used to roll. There’s something pleasingly nostalgic about this second LP from the Wirral’s Hooton Tennis Club.”
Q Magazine

Tracklisting

12" Vinyl Album (HVNLP132)
  1. Hooton Tennis Club - Growing Concerns
  2. Hooton Tennis Club - Bootcut Jimmy The G
  3. Hooton Tennis Club - Bad Dream (Breakdown on St George's Mount)
  4. Hooton Tennis Club - Sit Like Ravi
  5. Hooton Tennis Club - Katy-Anne Bellis
  6. Hooton Tennis Club - O Man, Won't You Melt Me?
  7. Hooton Tennis Club - Statue of the Greatest Woman I know
  8. Hooton Tennis Club - Meet Me at the Molly Bench
  9. Hooton Tennis Club - Lauren, I'm In Love!
  10. Hooton Tennis Club - Frostbitten in Fen Ditton
  11. Hooton Tennis Club - Lazers Linda
  12. Hooton Tennis Club - Big Box Of Chocolates
CD Album (HVNLP132CD)
  1. Hooton Tennis Club - Growing Concerns
  2. Hooton Tennis Club - Bootcut Jimmy The G
  3. Hooton Tennis Club - Bad Dream (Breakdown on St George's Mount)
  4. Hooton Tennis Club - Sit Like Ravi
  5. Hooton Tennis Club - Katy-Anne Bellis
  6. Hooton Tennis Club - O Man, Won't You Melt Me?
  7. Hooton Tennis Club - Statue of the Greatest Woman I know
  8. Hooton Tennis Club - Meet Me at the Molly Bench
  9. Hooton Tennis Club - Lauren, I'm In Love!
  10. Hooton Tennis Club - Frostbitten in Fen Ditton
  11. Hooton Tennis Club - Lazers Linda
  12. Hooton Tennis Club - Big Box Of Chocolates
Download Album (HVNLP132DIG)
  1. Hooton Tennis Club - Growing Concerns
  2. Hooton Tennis Club - Bootcut Jimmy The G
  3. Hooton Tennis Club - Bad Dream (Breakdown on St George's Mount)
  4. Hooton Tennis Club - Sit Like Ravi
  5. Hooton Tennis Club - Katy-Anne Bellis
  6. Hooton Tennis Club - O Man, Won't You Melt Me?
  7. Hooton Tennis Club - Statue of the Greatest Woman I know
  8. Hooton Tennis Club - Meet Me at the Molly Bench
  9. Hooton Tennis Club - Lauren, I'm In Love!
  10. Hooton Tennis Club - Frostbitten in Fen Ditton
  11. Hooton Tennis Club - Lazers Linda
  12. Hooton Tennis Club - Big Box Of Chocolates

mp3 downloads

Hooton Tennis Club - Big Box of Chocolates is not currently available in mp3 download format.

wav downloads

Hooton Tennis Club - Big Box of Chocolates is not currently available in wav download format.