The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace is There
This record came to me by surprise through an email from a record label advertising a band I’d listened to maybe once, and only recently recognized as an artist to keep my eye on. As I nonchalantly pressed play, expecting just a mystery background soundtrack to study too, I was met with the pleasant (and instantly recognizable) melody of the aptly titled opener, “An Introduction to the Album.”
The guitars were soft, perfectly highlighting the quiet singing and occasional impassioned shout from vocalist Christian Holden. It wasn’t until a cathartic crescendo was reached though, that the song took the breath from my lungs. If I wasn’t fully committed before, the band, the Hotelier, now had my full and undivided attention.
The album Home, Like Noplace is There astoundingly covers an incredible range of human emotions over the course of nine tracks. From politics to personal issues, and the joy of youth to the anxiety that sometimes accompanies discovering who we truly are, Holden and the band encompass their views on life and existentialism in anthems like “Discomfort Revisited” and “Dendron.”
“The Scope of All This Rebuilding” kicks things off with the same catchiness as its predecessor, without being a pop song.
Polarizing “Life is a Drag” hits with emotion and fury similar to artists like Touche Amore, but without it being a hardcore song.
As genre-denying as they are defining, it’s songs like “Your Deep Rest” (a surprisingly upbeat, yet powerful account of grievance) that the Hotelier will be remembered for. In fact, it’s songs like that, that we will remember ourselves for, as the songs prove to be a four-minute expression getting us through the day.
Home, Like Noplace is There will be the record someone discovers while rummaging through his or her sibling’s record collection (which is the way I stumbled upon classics such as Take This to Your Grave and Deja Entendu).
The album spans decades, as it is sonically reminiscent of the emo genre’s late ‘90s to early ‘00s prime, as well as a calling card for the talent 2014 has to offer. As close to an “instant-classic” as they come, Home, Like Noplace is There is determined to be the record that convinces your little sibling to pick up their first guitar, and the Hotelier are a band determined to capture your full and undivided attention.
Key Tracks: “The Scope of All This Rebuilding,” “Your Deep Rest,” “Among the Wildflowers”
For Fans of: The Menzingers, The Weakerthans
Issues – Issues
Leave it to me to kill the mood, but on the opposite end of the spectrum, I can confidently say that Issues’ self-titled debut may be one of the worst records to introduce itself to the musical community.
While other bands take pride in the time and thought it takes to create original songs, Issues defiantly looks us all in the eyes, and challenge us with one word, “Nope.” They back-up Top 40 wannabes (“Mad at Myself,” “Late”) with guttural screams and the one-key chugging of guitars.
That’s right folks, this record touches new lows in its half-hearted attempt to revive long-gone genres (nu-metal, for instance) by combining elements of rap (“I’ve got this old girl, I know she’s tryin’ to play me/She’s like a Honda, but these days I drive Mercedes”) with “metalcore” (which apparently just means three minute breakdowns these days), and pop sensibilities. One of the biggest problems with Issues is that those sensibilities could very much be a high point on their own accord, were it not for Tyler Carter’s vocals being drenched in auto-tune.
The worst part is that while a record like this will sell a million copies, plus T-shirts and festival dates at your local Hot Topic, others deserving of this recognition (say, for example, the Hotelier) won’t come close to touching that level of success.
Genre mashing can indeed be ingenious, but Issues is that small child mixing everything it can find in the kitchen cupboards to try to feed you. But what do you do? You taste it, just because you feel bad.
Key Tracks: There is nothing here that I can recommend to you in good conscience.
For Fans of: Top 40/Nu-Metal/Metalcore, making songs on GarageBand, irreparable aural damage
Dashboard Confessional – Swiss Army Romance
If the Hotelier isn’t enough for you, check out this week’s essential listening: Dashboard Confessional’s Swiss Army Romance, an acoustic gem from 1999.
Here, we find 19-year-old Chriss Carabba alone with an acoustic guitar, cranking out songs that defined teenage romance (“Screaming Infidelities,” “Living in Your Letters”) for a lot of us. While some songs can be on the edge of slightly immature or cheeseball-ish (“Again I Go Unnoticed”), more often than not they become simple, yet beautiful arrangements (“A Plain Morning”) that are perfect for weekend nights spent alone.