Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hotel of the Laughing Tree - Terror and Everything After (2011) (1.0)

This is *that* album. Long awaited to talk about by myself. And it was to be released in September of 2010, but due to getting things in order with their record label. It officially is being released on February 1st, 2011. And "this is an early review."

The below quote are just comments/observations I've written down in the time I've had to hear this. 92/100

1 Barnaby Bison's Blind 3:38
"make the people in the lighthouse dance..I can't believe my mind, you're nothing short of Sanctuary"..then the gang chanting, very The Dear Hunter-like (in a good/effective way)
2 Another Harvard Renaissance 5:17 twangy guitar with another energetic ballsy riff
"we'll be waiting when you die, we'll be waiting when you die. When you diiiiie, when diiiiie" with a whistle.
3 Gods Great Gumball Machine 6:49 thick forceful power-chords,..the tempo change in the middle makes this song work really well. Machine-gun power chords.."night after night... 9 to 5"..ballsy riffs with trumpet. It slows to this sax part, and then back to the heavy rhythms
4 Noah 3:15 catchy, poppy, vocal harmonies work..the outro is catchy.."everybody wants to throw a party for me"
5 Winchester Devil Grass 5:05 opening lead bass-line..the intro reminds me of "Roadhouse Blues" from The Doors..leads to a rhythm twangy bluesy, ragtime part ala Margot. "cause I hardly ever act my age..."..sort of an epic ending with horns and bluesy guitar..and then whistles and "that's
the way they bring you down"

6. Weather Maps For Nikolai 4:02 ..the bridge has this great guitar run, that fits nicely with many others on this album.
7 Sanctuary 4:30 "just get me out of here, I see my faith and fear"?.."you know they look like youuuu, they look like youu...singing sanctuary inside, kissing my Siberian wife. all my favorite seasons collide, take me out-syyyyde"
8 Gunpowder Falls 5:33 "I don't think it matters anymohhhr..any mohohohohohohrrrrrr"
9 Bad Canterbury 3:22 really poppy intro, catchy chorus with a mandolin.."to keep you aliiiive"
"all of the flowers sing"...the melodies and counter-melodies on this song are infectious and stay in your head for hours if not days after. One of the best pop songs of 2011, definitely.

"I-love-my-monsters-darling, more-than-you'll-ever-know...Bad Canterbury..I never knew you!"

10 Forging the Family Name 1:26 piano interlude piece
11 Mont St. Michel 3:36 "I want your house, I want your home"
12 Ghosts in the Basement 4:55 horn section intro..another fun bridge that's horn-driven. Some TDH-yelling. Then "hello-my-holeee-ghohhhst"..echoing vocals at the climax "We're not sorry, we're not singing (our only?) song!"
13 Terror and Everything After 8:01 epic..reminds me of dredg in some ways, namely some of the guitar textures. "I know I know/I'm told that there's a heaven in this hell" there's a consistent flow, nice banging guitar leads..even the little reggae part works.
14 Lazarus 4:11 great vocal chorus.."na na na na na na nahh" and ragtime piano. Reminds me of House of Fools meets The Dear Hunter. Then the Noah chorus comes back in a slower, acoustic style.

This album has this really good energy, along with excellent percussion. Their lead singer sounds a fair amount better on this album, than on their last EP from 2009. There's also rather ballsy guitar riffs at times. I love the subtle quiet/transitional melodic sections or bridges on many of the songs. The gang screaming/yelling works in a great poppy-themed way.

I love the horns, namely the trumpets on a lot of this album.

This album reminds me a bit of Fair to Midland's Fables From a Mayfly, in that it goes from track-to-track with strong melodies. This band clearly has a love and a knack for phrasing, varied tones and especially melodies
with counter-melodies, and harmonies.

They very much seem to have taken a number of classic rock, rock, folk (or Bluegrass even), and blues-based music influences and molded them into their own sound somehow. Very much like The Dear Hunter. You hear Hendrix, The Beach Boys, The Beatles etc, but it's not totally a tribute, but as I said, more of a molding.

Do they have a "core" (hardcore punk/post-hardcore..or 'emo') element? yes, to a point. Mostly in some of AJ's vocals, but they totally fit with the songs. Very much like Casey's use of them with The Dear Hunter among other singers.

I think this record is a GIGANTIC breakthrough of sorts for this band. It honestly, caught me by surprise on how consistently good it was. And how the songs have stood the test of time. They're memorable, they're varied, they're inspiring, and they're refined to point it's obvious the band put a lot of thought into them.

And I'd say even tracks like "Noah" and especially "Bad Canterbury" could bring in a lot of new fans, just based on how catchy and accessible they are. Will they? that remains to be seen. But like The Dear Hunter or Emanuel and the Fear, this band have the material to bring large numbers in. However, I can't really expect it based on those recent, past experiences. But I'd love them to succeed where some of those others have not (at this point).

This record, would have likely been my #2 album for 2010, but because it's now a 2011 release (and the track list/order changed), it will sit atop my 2011 Album Index early on. And the dozens of others that are anticipated, and not yet known to be anticipated/come-out are going to have to try and knock it down, which will not be an easy task at this point. But we'll see.

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