CD Review of Meerkats Enemy Planet Appeared in icon May 15, 1997 Enemy Planet Retro Rocket Records A regional stage fave since forming in 1993, Cedar Rapids' Meerkats bring an expanded musical palette and a quantum leap in production values to their third release, Enemy Planet. Still building on the experimental pop motifs established on Magical Misery Tour and Curse of the Hearse, the feisty quartet has incorporated spacey, mood-shaping touches of sci-fi/surf instrumental maneuvers to the mix, and evidence of their growth as musicians, singers and song-writers turns up all over the place. Despite the futuristic outer space look and feel of the cover and title, Enemy Planet is none other than the one we all share. As flat out rockers who have done more than their fair share of time in the redneck bars that dot these here hinterlands, Meerkats know all too well the palpable alienation created playing original material for the innovation-challenged denizens who would much prefer Foreigner covers or -better yet- Alan Jackson, Reba and Wynonna on the juke-box. Uncomfortable as such gigs tend to be, they do create and atmosphere that both makes a band more tightly interdependent on each other and generate a unique battle scarred sense of humor-and Meerkats display both of these tendencies in spades. A remarkably strong indie release, Enemy Planet's 14 tracks draw from the various incarnations of punk and garage rock with echo-laden single -note guitar-lines making deft references to nebulous TV detective and beach movie themes: all held together by a strong melodic sense and clever lyrical constructs. There isn't a weak track in the lot, but early faves include 'Shape of Your Skull' (a dopey, driving crusher), The Merseybeat-tinged 'Psychograph', the amp-shredding 'Tornados of Blackhawk County (with a metallic guitar coda that I swear is lifted from Gary Lewis' 'this Diamond Ring') and the creepy 'Too Precious for Words' (which recalls Pink Flag-era Wire). There's a lot going on here, and a lot left to unveil itself. A terrific record by a band with a remarkably sure sense of itself that seems destined to one day bring this planet around to their side. Jim Musser Meerkats are a three man rock unit based in Cedar rapids, Iowa. They have toured the midwest since 1992 bringing their feisty version of freak out rock live to friends and fans. Bassist Joel McDowell and guitarist Brook Hoover cover most of the vocals. Erik Marshall plays the skins. They've been through an amazing number of wild nights, crazy parties, marathon recording sessions and endless gigs and they keep cranking it out every weekend. Enemy Planet is a wonderful, diverse album that gives the listener and insight to their world. Article From Cram Magazine Buried at the back of an Iowa City bar, full of college-aged music fans listening to their friends pound out rock music, is 41-year-old professional musician Brook Hoover. With well-cut, wild hair and rose colored lenses in his glasses, the guitarist of The Meerkats didn't stick out like most men his age would in that atmosphere. Hunched over a binder composing a set-list for the night's show, Hoover was inconspicuous, although unnaturally organized. Musicians of opening bands loitered around tables of friends with beer and cigarettes living up the night and their momentous fame. Hoover remained constant in his business-cool attitude not needing to relish the moment because he is living the dream. Cedar Rapids based rock band The Meerkats keep a regular schedule playing shows most Friday and Saturday nights. Hoover plays with bassist Joel McDowell and drummer Erik Marshall. In an area congested with musicians in their 20s, The Meerkats command respect with their commitment and regional success. A current Cedar Rapids resident, Hoover grew-up with The Meerkats' bassist, Joel McDowell in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Hoover performed with his friends for house parties, school dances and talent shows. Claiming his identity as a musician was something Hoover always seemed comfortable with. 'Before I could play, I was in a band just smashing it out in the basement,' Hoover said. 'It was just really fun.' As Hoover got older, he attempted other careers including caring for the mentally disabled, construction for one day, making sandwiches and substitute teaching. 'Restaurant work was a disaster,' Hoover said. 'I tried other jobs. I just kept spacing off thinking about rock 'n roll.' Hoover attended the University of Northern Iowa majoring in art education. He received his teaching certificate in '87. Although he never became a teacher at a public school, Hoover used his training to teach guitar lessons. Hoover claims he would teach no matter what kind of a career he had. 'Not everyone has the patience,' Hoover said of teaching. 'I really enjoy it.' Hoover's students include Breaking Even guitarist John Seidel and musician Dick Prall of Chicago. 'A lot of them are touring the states and world,' Hoover said of his students without pride or jealousy. Hoover took his turn touring the country back in the '80s. However, he returned to Iowa because he liked what was going on here. While some musicians seem look for a way out of the Eastern Iowa music scene, dreaming of greener pastures, Hoover knows a good thing when he finds it. He described the old alternative papers of Eastern Iowa and shows he played at the Iowa City landmark Gabe's Oasis. Hoover admits to being a dreamer, but he seems to have something special that makes all his dreams come true. He holds an amazingly positive outlook stating that all anyone has to do is find a hobby and turn that into a career. It all sounds simple when he says it, but what's the secret? 'Just take little steps and figure out logically what to do,' Hoover advises fellow dreamers. 'It's typical eighth grade stuff about setting goals,' Hoover said as though the answer was obvious. So maybe common sense is the golden key Hoover possesses that has opened the door for his success. Owning his own studio was a goal Hoover achieved, as was recording his own CD. Hoover never dreamed of a big record contract. Instead, he built his studio to record music on his own. He does record other bands, however they are usually friends of his. The studio serves a purpose as more of a side project for Hoover rather than a serious business. The name of Hoover's studio even sounds like a side project. Some know it as Black Door or maybe Kinky Mullet. Hoover seemed to still be considering the name of his studio suggesting the casualness of the business. 'I just want to play stuff that makes me feel good,' Hoover said. 'At the same time I don't want to be too underground,' he added exposing more of that common sense. With no plans to retire from his stage career, Hoover joked that it's all in the genes. 'My mom is hot,' he said only half-serious. Hoover is releasing a new album with another already in the works. His most recent project will be recorded at Catamount Studios to feature an outside producer. 'When you are recording stuff by yourself, it gets pretty lonely,' Hoover said. He understands that a fresh ear can bring a recording to a higher quality. While Hoover goes into the studio, fans can pick-up his recently finished album this spring at The Meerkats shows and their favorite Eastern Iowa Indie record store. 'I feel blessed I get to work as a musician,' Hoover said. 'It's an honor.' Although making a living as a musician seems impossible to many people, Hoover's advise to everyone is to work at what you are good at. 'Find a hobby and turn that into a career like I did,' Hoover said. His success is a testament to that eighth grade goal setting and an inspiration to all dreamers.
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