For the past six months, I’ve been self-lamenting the fact that I can’t seem to get excited about many new bands or singer-songwriters, at least not as much as when I was younger and feistier. I’d hoped that I hadn’t become jaded. Fact is, with so much great music to discover on independent labels, one needn’t look too far to find excellent work. And Chicago’s Doug Hoekstra, originally from alt-country outlaws Bucket No. 6, lives and breathes excellence. While Su Casa, Mi Casa (save for one tune) explores his stellar career since 1999 and is expertly recorded from live shows in the U.S. and Europe, the Six Songs EP contains emotional depth with a folk and rock vibe; both albums are the work of an intelligent songwriter who has mastered his craft.
With eight proper records to his name, including both of these released in the second half of 2005, Hoekstra will be of special interest to fans of Lou Reed, and not because his vocals recall Reed’s; rather, instead of Reed’s speak-sing vocal style, Hoekstra sings soothingly with his heart on his sleeve and with all the soul he can muster. When Hoekstra wants to rock he does so in fine form, but what’s best are the songs with softer vocals that linger more and seem filled with richer instrumentation. Either way, playing with a band or just a guitar in hand, Doug Hoekstra will appeal to anyone looking to find a sound different from any other band, even when all Hoekstra’s really doing is playing great rock, pop, and folk music.