It is not enough to say that The Hotelier have grown older, or wiser, or more of anything. We can trace a progression, if we like, from the explosive empowerment of It Never Goes Out to the ashen disillusionment of Home, Like Noplace Is There. We can follow an awakening of youth in suburbia attempting to learn what is right, and what is ours, and what is possible and impossible, and maybe we can't save each other like we thought we once could. We're awake and we're tired and we want love in our lives again. And so we find ourselves now in Goodness, in the woods outside of the suburbs, trying to re-learn that love.
But we seek a space outside time. Once in a while we can feel it, like a clearing. Where our histories and our rhetoric blends into languages spoken and unspoken. Where the greatest awe comes upon us for the overlooked, the simple, the incomprehensible. Where things glitch as they solidify, repeat as they evolve, scream as they whisper. Where always and forever above us, in all of its natural, unnatural, supernatural love, shines the moon. Goodness is not this place -- goodness is nowhere -- but we are following it to where we have to be.
After all we've gone through, how young are we? What is age softening in us, what is it hardening in us? Are we getting better? Worse? How could we ever know, when capital forces us onward away from ourselves? Will the woods consume the suburbs; will the suburbs consume the woods? In the gaps between these monumental questions, in the tiniest details, in the infinitude of cycles outside of time, there is Goodness. We begin there.
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.
Austin-based quartet Alex Napping draws from the deeply personal and the sonically groovy to create storytelling with a beat. Founded in 2013, the group includes lead singer and guitarist Alex Cohen, guitarist Adrian Sebastian Haynes, bassist Tomás Garcia-olano, and drummer Andrew Stevens.
In 2014, the band released their debut album, This Is Not A Bedroom, on Punctum Records. With a guitar-focused sound, this first release reflects nostalgia for early romance and self-discovery, drawing from collective conversations about youth and its limitations. As an expansion of the themes found in Bedroom, Alex Napping released Trembles Part I & II in 2016, a pair of expressive singles hinging on a short story composed by Cohen. Trembles caught the ear of both NPR and BBC Radio 1, earning featured spots on their respective SXSW coverage.
Mise En Place, the band's upcoming sophomore full-length, weaves together the uncertainty of adulthood with a personal desire to establish existential structure. It also marks the band's first release with San Francisco-based Father/Daughter Records. Revolving around a formative relationship, this album tells the story of Cohen's conflicting roles as both person and partner while highlighting a sophisticated, dimensional sound from the band at large. In Mise En Place, arrangements take center stage, overwhelming the guitar-centric sound that had dominated their early releases. This new band dynamic comes together articulately in the album's lead single, Living Room. Moody and honest, with tracks that express both joy and isolation, Mise En Place explores the struggle to evade traditionalism, define personal success, and balance the expectations of love.
Mise En Place comes out on Father/Daughter Records on May 5th, 2017. You can find the band somewhere between Austin and New York City.