Worcester, Massachusetts' the Hotelier released their latest full-length, Home, Like NoPlace Is There
, via Tiny Engines late last month, and it's been playing non-stop on my iPod and stereo ever since it showed up in my inbox.
"The Scope Of All Of This Rebuilding" and "Housebroken" feature a declamatory, deadpan delivery that brings to mind the likes of Piebald or the Weakerthans. It's comparison driven in even further when you consider Jon K. Sampson-esque lyrics such "I'm just slightly nervous of what I might do/ If I was let loose."
Songs like these are balanced with fist-pumping anthems that recall early Saves the Day or New Found Glory - you know, back when they were still awkward and uncomfortable and could legitimately title an album Through Being Cool
without everyone making fun of them for it.
And, legitimately, it's that sort of of catchiness melded with an idea that these guys sing about "things that make you cringe inside yourself" that makes Home, Like NoPlace Is There
a moving album that you can listen to at an age older than anything ending in "-teen." The Hotelier let you have all the feels without the mawkish embarrassment that comes with heart on your sleeve lyrics.
The Hotelier's bassist and vocalist Christian Holden answered some questions I had via e-mail - foremost among them, why the name change from their fomer appellation of The Hotel Year? I assumed it had to do with confusion of some sort.
"It mostly had to do with confusion with another defunct band within a semi-similar genre," confirmed Holden. "People cared more than we did, so we just changed it. It was the least drastic thing we could have done."
The Hotelier's approach to music is most often described as raw but, according to Holden, it's not as if the band is aiming for an unfiltered approach. He says it's neither an intentional result, nor something that just happens.
"You know, people say that but I don't really hear it," Holden says. "What I would compare it against would - in my opinion - sound over-produced. Compared to our peers I feel that it's middle of the road, but I think 'raw' IS something we try to do as far as feeling and voicing. So it's more likely a mixture of both conscious and unconscious."
The same thing goes for comparisons to Piebald.
"For as long as we've been a band we've been getting compared to Piebald, but that is yet another thing people say that I always find myself asking 'why? about," continues Holden when asked if he takes his bitingly sincere lyrical approach from Piebald's Travis Shettel.
"Like, Piebald is a really great band and I am a fan, but it's got to be something really subconscious that affected me from listening to it because I never hear it. Something I appreciate about that band that I may try to do in writing is their off-kilter delivery. But otherwise, I'd just be regurgitating what I hear others use as comparisons."
The Hotelier is certainly not a band to vomit back what they hear others doing. Their bio describes them as "anti-pop," but Holden is quick to put the concept in context and explain that means it's not antithetical for the band to be so very catchy on "The Scope Of All Of This Rebuilding."
"Anti-pop is not an antithesis to pop. It's more similar to the term 'anti-folk,'" the bassist says. "Anti-folk was used to define the work of artists that was taking characteristics and structure of folk music and subverting it. It's a response from various perspectives to mainstream folk usually pertaining to its watered-down and pretentious marketability. Pop music goes through similar things and deserves a similar response. So, anti-pop is music that uses pop structure and/or characteristics of pop and in the same way subverts it/mocks it/makes it unmarketable. You know? It's not punk. It's pretty clearly pop music. It is catchy. But there is an attitude in it."
The Hotelier plays Art Closet Studios on Thursday, March 13, with Annabel, Mountains For Clouds, Osoosooso, Jib Jab Jones & the Indigo Circus, and Josh Hunt. Doors are at 7:00pm and the show is all-ages. Further details are available here.