Six Months Later: Why The Hotelier’s “Home Like Noplace Is There” Is Still The Best Record Of 2014
Every calendar year, there are hundreds of critics and pundits that have claimed to found the “next great rock record”. This kind of hyperbole is damaging to many artists and ends up “overhyping” them and subsequently disappointing and alienating many fans. Rock music has been completely omitted from the mainstream in 2014. One look at the current Top 40, or the VMA’s, or even January’s Grammy awards is another reminder of how far rock music has fallen this year. There isn’t and won’t be just one band or artist to help save rock or bring it back into the mainstream. The hyperbolic chaos that is finding the next “big rock record” is an attempt to do just that, but unfortunately, it just isn’t going to happen. What will happen though, is a slow-burning attempt at bringing rock music back to where it should be: to the ears and hearts of those who really care. One band that is doing that, subconsciously, is The Hotelier. Their new record, from February 2014, Home Like Noplace Is There is by and large the best record of 2014 - even six, seven months later.
The Hotelier are not a rock band, per se. They self-admittedly classify themselves as “anti-pop anarcho-punk”. This seemingly sarcastic jab at those critics and pundits who over-analyze the genre of rock bands is quite comical but also very accurate. And, of course it’s accurate. The Hotelier's self-assigned genre is just a small part of their larger story. This sort of sarcastic ploy at self-assigning their band a genre has The Hotelier already showcasing their multi-layered political message before you’ve even heard them strum a chord or pick a note. And it’s this setup that makes it clear that you’re in for a special treat when you hear what they have to offer.
Home Like Noplace Is There is hardly The Hotelier's first record. 2011's It Never Goes Out was an incredible record, penned by then The Hotel Year, and after a quick but very witty name change, we have Home Like Noplace Is There - the best record of the year.
Yeah, that’s a lofty claim: “best record of the year”. In fact, I’d agree with you if you said it was a bit hyperbolic. But, thankfully, I have quite a few reasons and ideas about why it easily takes that title and will keep it for the next three months of the year.
You see, when you first listen to the record, you’re greeted with what I would easily call the best opening song on an album yet. “An Introduction To The Album” is aptly-titled, but it’s the eventual build-up and crescendo that really takes your breath away. Singer/bassist Christian Holden quietly sings to you about singing birds and open windows - which, out of context, seem nonsensical - and brings you into a whole other place once the song ends its reign. This kind of opening song is not just ambitious but daring. The execution, however, is just spectacular. The song is so well written, so well performed, and so well executed that it sets the tone perfectly for the next 8 songs that are also just as well sequenced.
I’ve seen The Hotelier a few times since the album’s release now, and each time they have opened up with this track. That’s an odd choice for an opening song. But, it’s also quite genius. It gives the band time to warm up, it gives Holden the ability to get his vocal cords ready, and it provides the most beautiful backing track: the entire crowd singing every single word. The band clearly has a following, and they’ve stayed up late doing their homework by memorizing every melody and every scream that Holden makes during the 4:33 introductory song. Talk about great songwriting.
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Don’t let the great words I’ve written so far fool you into thinking this is an easy record to get into. It’s not. It will take you multiple spins, multiple binge-listening sessions, and multiple weeks to really enjoy what this record has to offer. You see, because the lyrical content is so deep, you might gloss over it at first thinking it’s just another post-emo/screamo/post-whatever album. Again, it’s not. Let it sink in. Let the sing-a-longs reverberate through you enough times that you can’t go a day without hearing “I just slept for years on end (fuck)” or “I called in sick to your funeral” over and over.
Past the phenomenal lyrics and songwriting, the album is downright deep. My favorite kind of analogy is one having to do with baseball. And with this record, it’s almost impossible not to liken it to the depth that a great baseball team has. You have guys sitting on the bench that are great pinch-hitters and your bullpen is stacked with quality guys. But, of course, you still have your starting lineup and starting 5 rotation that is lights out. That’s a lot like Home Like Noplace Is There… The record will have a few standouts “The Scope of All of This Rebuilding”, “Your Deep Rest”, and “Among The Wildflowers”, but it’s the bench guys, the ones that come into the game later in clutch situations - “Life In Drag”, “Housebroken”, “Dendron” - that really give the album what it deserves. This sort of depth is not typically seen in this scene, or in this “genre”, if you can say such a thing. It’s entirely unique to The Hotelier and it’s something hugely important, so much so that it is paramount to their identity and their success as a band.
And of course I could go on for hours about the lyrics themselves, and how Christian Holden has created a masterpiece of lyrical content, but you can be sure to find countless articles about that online. Just know that there’s so much more than what is on the surface here on this record. From the metaphorical-yet-genius “Housebroken” to the gripping and emotional “Life In Drag”, Holden has shown that he is not only one of the “scene’s” best at writing lyrics, he’s also cementing his place as one of (indie) rock’s greatest lyricists. It’s an honor and privilege to hear (and watch) this happen. With phenomenal and great work comes great results, and this is no exception.
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Last year, we had Doom Loop by Mansions, which proved to be the most important album of the year for so, so many reasons. This year, we have something completely different yet similar in Home Like Noplace Is There by The Hotelier. From It Never Goes Out to this record, we have seen such an intense and important shift of character, writing, and prowess for these Massachusetts boys. Life is different on the East Coast, sure, but it makes it all the more indelible when listening to these tunes almost 3,000 miles away from where they were conceived.
Home Like Noplace Is There is truly a magical, special, and unreal record. In fact, I’ve run out of superlatives to describe it. For everyone I’ve turned on to it, they have all come out with the same initial reservations and concerns: “It’s good, I guess. I can’t really get into it.” But, always - always - after multiple listens, they come back singing the praises of the under-the-surface sounds and words that fill the halls of each of the record’s 9 songs.
We may not get another record like this one for a while, and it’s no secret that The Hotelier have set the bar so high with this one that it’s going to be astounding and impressive to see them match it or even surpass it with their next effort. Either way, we have 36 minutes and 9 seconds of an emotional thrill ride that will never end as long as your vinyl record’s needle is still in good shape.
The Hotelier's Home Like Noplace Is There is the best record of 2014. Go listen to it now.