The Hotelier

The Hotelier

The most political music is often the most explicit, battering its audience with its beliefs. But that isn't always the case; sometimes it embeds its ideas in subtler, more successful ways.

Take The Hotelier (previously The Hotel Year), whose second full-length Home, Like Noplace Is There is comprised of what can only be described as anthemic, cathartic rock songs, sent occasionally to delicate and destructive extremes. Singer Christian Holden pushes his clean voice until it crumbles, on "The Scope of All of This Rebuilding" against a strutting pace, and on the furious "Life in Drag", but most powerfully during the chorus of "Your Deep Rest" where his words are heart-wrenching and haunting. As drummer Sam Frederick stamps out an enormous beat and chords—strummed by Cody Millet, Scott Ayotte, and Chris Hoffman—clamor around him, Holden sings, "I called in sick from your funeral / tradition of closure made it feel impossible... / I should have never kept my word to you / Not a cry not a sound / Might've learned how to swim but never taught how to drown /You said remember me for me, I need to set my spirit free."

A careful listen to Holden's lyrics reveals that each song on Home, Like Noplace Is There makes a political statement, albeit by showing rather than telling. They may be most visible on "Housebroken" on which Holden addresses an abused dog; after inviting it to be free, he sings as the canine above a jangling guitar, saying, "Master's all that I got, keeps me having a purpose, / Gives me bed keeps me fed, and I'm just slightly nervous / Of what I might do if I were let loose / If I caught that mail car or ate garbage for food, / So as I bear all my teeth, I will ask of you please / to just leave." As this swaying song rises dramatically from this revelation, that some individuals prefer their restraints, it becomes clear that there's more to the record than its powerful melodies.

By making political statements through personal explorations, The Hotelier has not only make a uniquely political record, but also a subtler, more successful one

Runaway Brother

Recalling the intelligence of catchy, ambitious emo rock standards like Motion City Soundtrack and Say Anything, as well as modern favorites like Modern Baseball and The Front Bottoms, Runaway Brother walk aperfect tightrope of pop smarts balanced with punk chops. The band's brand of energetic indie pop and emo rock showcases a songwriting depth and maturity that is startling considering their youth. Quickly becoming well-known for their boisterous live shows, Runaway Brother are primed to capture the hearts and ears ofanyone in their path. There's something strange about Runaway Brother—not simply "unique" or "interesting," mind you, but strange—though it's difficult to identify its source. It's obvious (albeit intangible) on their previous EPs and splits, including Bedhead, a collection of seven spunky, eccentric songs that introduced the Cleveland, OH band to their wider audience. But it's on Mother, their first official full-length, that their strangeness seems to float to the surface most profoundly—and, perhaps, effectively. Most likely, guitarist and singer Jacob Lee lies at the root of his band's peculiar aura. His dynamic, dramatic voice demands his audience's attention during the verses of "Catch"—here, his playful lyrics march and stomp and shout, but suddenly withdraw into a quiet chorus, where they try to hide behind the glistening guitars—and on "Moth," where his desperation during the verses somehow intensifies even further as it climbs into each chorus. But Runaway Brother's strangeness might also stem from the moods and styles that layer each song, making the band difficult to define. "Moth" is pressing and pushy, but the washing chords on "Hold Me Down" trip suddenly into a shuffling strut, and "Virgin Rock," with its thrumming electric piano and strolling beat, gives way to chaotic, riotous chords during its conclusion. It's strange, then, that the songs that make up Mother go from zero to ten in a matter of measures, that Runaway Brother's sound can be so singular and still so indescribable, that a seemingly straightforward Midwestern rock band can be so memorable, so unique and interesting—so strange—by writing ambitious, honest songs.

If punk-rock is a response to anything, it's pop—music, culture, that which is mass produced and consumed—which is why their combination requires such a delicate balance. With State Lines, singer and guitarist Jade Lilitri successfully maneuvered the two simultaneously; the band's brand of fuzz and bounce, bite and fun, found its stride just before it fizzled out. Jade does more than maintain balance under a new name, Oso Oso seems to extend his capacity in both domains. Indeed, the songs that make up his first full-length Real Stories of True People Who Kind of Looked Like Monsters feel equal parts coarse and tangled and inescapable. "Wet Grass," which begins with thudding toms and guitars that chirp like jungle birds, builds into a chorus thickened with muscular chords and layers of vocals. Jade's melody on tracks like this and "This Must Be a Place" seem instantly hummable—the sort that coax the listener to swim through the thrumming chords and ride the adjacent harmony, if not sing alongside him. Even his bold, buzzing voice seems to express the album's duality—it cuts through the italicized guitars on "Another Night," surfs the wake of "This Must Be an Entrance," hops on "Where You've Been Hiding's" pins and needles, and maintains a confident melody throughout. Thankfully, Real Stories never becomes too pop or too punk, and never stumbles into pop-punk's shiftless landscape. Instead, Oso Oso sets pop against punk, lets them tear into each other until the result is as ragged as it is anthemic.

$13.00 - $15.00

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