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The Hotelier – Goodness

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, May 27, 2016.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    Three months ago, Christian Holden, vocalist/bassist of The Hotelier, posted on the band’s Tumblr a very personal essay reflecting on how their last album, Home, Like NoPlace Is There, affected the band’s lives and how they were going to proceed in the future. The essay also featured Holden coming to terms with being a public figure and exploring trust, art, and “realness.” Somewhere in the middle of the post, Holden writes, “And I think this is what bums me out about the wishy-washiness of rock music and performance. Realness is a treasure in life. I don’t want to see uncritical postured realness. I want transparency.” And, well, you can use that declaration as the thesis statement for The Hotelier’s stunning new album, Goodness.

    The aforementioned Home, Like NoPlace Is There put The Hotelier on the map, but it will be Goodness that defines the rest of the band’s career. The former is a stark and intense look into how fucked everything can be. It’s relentless in its approach on how loss surrounds us and how volatile everything can be. Goodness is just as blunt as Home, but it goes in the opposite direction. The record isn’t as urgent as its predecessor, rather it picks and chooses its spots of energetic bursts. There’s an emphasis throughout on how interconnected everything is in this universe, no matter how significant, and how it all works within the natural cycle of life. There’s still loss in this world, but on Goodness The Hotelier realize how essential it is for love to blossom.

    The difference in approach happens instantly, whereas Home opened with the knee-buckling devastation of “An Introduction to the Album,” Holden begins Goodness with a spoken word poem (“N 43 59 38.927 W 71 23 45.27”) that sets up the driving “Goodness Pt. 2” in which Holden – almost disconnected from the soft, subtle guitar chords and Sam Frederick’s repetitive drum rhythm – proclaims what could be the best example of Goodness’s realness: “Withered down to our basic components we are naked, at rest, and alone.”

    Along with the transparency Holden portrays through their music, the lyrics also explore and interact with love, spirituality, life, death, and what comes after. The soft, wrenching ballad, “Opening Mail For My Grandmother,” works as the centerpiece, and it’s referenced again on the slow-burning “Soft Animal.” It’s here that Holden makes a connection with a doe that’s ultimately dashed when a group of hunters gun the animal down. Once seen as a devastating inevitability on Home, death and its aftermath are here treated as the precursor to rebirth.

    Goodness is the first album The Hotelier have written that comes loaded with expectations. It would have been easy to fall back into the patterns and structures that made Home so impactful, but the Massachusetts quartet have never been that kind of band. The surging “Piano Player” and mid-tempo groove on “Two Deliverances” are prime examples of the band experimenting within the space of their sound (reminiscent of Mineral’s best work). It’s here we see the band evolving past the non-stop pace of Home and incorporating slower moments exactly where you’d expect something loud — the subject matter left to marinate in the almost-silence.

    The album’s spiritual centerpiece, “You In This Light,” is musically light but harkens back to a failed relationship and realizing that the failure is okay. This failure leads to something new and participates within the natural progression of life (“Coming around again/making some space to mend/gaining the strength to stand/feeling the love again”). The song connects to Goodness’s previous themes and fits well with Holden’s description that the album is a Taoist love record. The power of this idea is also felt throughout the closing track, “End Of Reel,” a six-minute rollercoaster that’s as resoundingly positive as it is weary.

    Some reviews may categorize this album as part of the emo revival, and while those writers won’t technically be wrong, Goodness is so much more than that. This is a record that transcends what an indie-rock album is capable of being, reaching for, and achieving. Going back to that blog post from February and looking at the end, we see Holden mentioning that “there are pieces of my life that I will share bluntly whenever, and pieces that I will only share on my own time. I will do my best to be honest with y’all and never treat you like you are unable to understand.” This is the promise Holden keeps with Goodness.

    In a recent Stereogum article, Holden remarks that “you can’t live in anguish your whole life.” It’s critical that we note Goodness isn’t all sunshine and smiles – anguish still exists. But one of the definitions of ‘goodness’ is “the best part of anything; essence; strength.” And this record’s thirteen tracks clearly find the essence in all that anguish and loss, but it’s the strength of hope and love that emerge from it all.

  2. teebs41

    Prestigious Prestigious

    Fantastic review for a fantastic record! This is a special one, great job Drew!
  3. Buscemi knows best

    You owe me a Sausage McMuffin

    This record is really growing on me after a few spins. Still too early to tell if it'll be as big for me as Home, bit it's fantastic.

    Wish there was more in the review about the music, rather than focusing almost entirely on lyrical content. Though I suppose that's more of a critique of music reviews in general nowadays, than this review specifically.
    teebs41 likes this.
  4. princexero

    Let's Lead, Not Follow

    This album is way better than Home IMHO
    teebs41 likes this.
  5. CMilliken


    Loving the record. I'm glad I read that Stereogum write up before listening to Goodness. This album really is something special. Great thoughts throughout Drew. Happy you're writing more reviews. Keep it up.
    teebs41 likes this.
  6. Junction183


    Best Album of the Year (so far)
    teebs41 likes this.
  7. Craig Manning

    @FurtherFromSky Moderator

    teebs41 likes this.
  8. Shrek

    can't be made fun of Prestigious

    This record defied every expectation I had. I was ready for Pup to dominate my summer, and for this to not click with me until the fall, but this record is all I'm capable of listening to at the moment. I threw this on for the first time while doing dishes last Saturday morning, and it literally made me stop and get emotional. Music has never hit me like that before.

    I would be shocked if I find another piece of music this year that demands my ears the way Two Deliverances does. In a year where Brian Fallon, Menzingers, etc are all releasing or have released new music, that is a strong statement for my tastes. Outstanding review, @Drew Beringer.
    teebs41 likes this.
  9. EntryLevelTank

    "Draft Day" is a good film Supporter

    Great review. Even better record. Really getting into it after a few listens.
  10. Really great review, Drew. This album is everything.

    Strangely enough, I spun this at work this morning and after looking for something comparable to put on afterwards, I ended up going with The Photo Album. Similar vibes in how the instruments are given space to breath, opposite themes of nature and urban sprawl haha.
  11. Dumpweed182

    Shut Up

    Still can't get into this band.
    ComedownMachine likes this.
  12. Former Planets


    I had no desire to listen to Goodness a second time after one go around, and the review didn't change my mind, but this comment, of all things, may have...
  13. partyscene

    my holy ghost is hovering over me

    Great review, really want to give Goodness another play after read this one.
    teebs41 likes this.
  14. Haha, the two albums don't sound very similar at all, it's just their sonic qualities and textures that got me thinking. I don't think this will change your mind, but you should listen to the album again anyways because it rules.
    teebs41 likes this.
  15. EntryLevelTank

    "Draft Day" is a good film Supporter

    I usually don't dig interludes too much, but the two coordinate songs with "i saw the moon" rule.
    michaelvalerijr and teebs41 like this.
  16. Leftandleaving

    I will be okay. everything Supporter

    Good review. Aoty
    Aaron Mook likes this.
  17. nl5011

    Trusted Supporter

    Great review. Need to check this out. Their last album didn't pull me in much.
    teebs41 likes this.
  18. Eric Wilson

    Trusted Prestigious

    Just got done with this one too. Amazing.
  19. DerekIsAGooner

    So assuming that this weekend...

    I understand the message about censorship this band is trying to send with its album cover. However, I didn't enjoy coming across is on my twitter feed (via the twitter account) while on my break at work.
  20. teebs41

    Prestigious Prestigious

    They def saw this haha
    Aaron Mook likes this.
  21. thanks dawg
    teebs41 likes this.
  22. Craig Manning

    @FurtherFromSky Moderator

    What did the Tweet say?
  23. teebs41

    Prestigious Prestigious

    You: don't you know I am at Twitter at work I can't have this pop up

    Me: I'm telling
    Craig Manning and Aaron Mook like this.
  24. aoftbsten

    Trusted Supporter

    For some reason "Sun" reminds me of "Never Let You Go" by Third Eye Blind. The chord progression is kind of similar and I guess it's also because Blue has an image of the sun for its cover.
    teebs41 likes this.
  25. robargarthan


    I was really let down when I first listened to the album. Everyone else gave it a ton of praise but it just wasn't clicking with me. Finally last night I got in a certain mood and it finally hit me. Really excited to dive into this record over the new few weeks. Awesome review Drew!
    teebs41 likes this.