(Photos by Kylie Shaffer)
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.
- Dane Erbach
The Hotelier - Home, Like Noplace Is There LP/CD
2014 · Tiny Engines · TE127
The Hotelier - It Never Goes Out LP/CD
2015 · Tiny Engines · TE140