I wanted this review to be 'real good', so I have been sitting
on it for a while because, in all honesty, the band Hotpipes
deserves a damn good review. They deserve a review that can articulately
and creatively express the general awesomeness of this album (which
also happens to be called Hotpipes), a review that can
impart the energy of their album, a review that makes you so excited
about the Hotpipes that they will unquestionably be the next CD
that you purchase (which you have to do directly from the band).
Unfortunately, despite my procrastination, this may or may not
be that review.
I first heard the album on the drive home from this year's
South by Southwest, I was on the road someplace in Kansas I
believe, my brain fully numbed by four long days of indie rock
and a general lack of sleep. The last thing I really wanted
to hear, after four days of hearing nothing but, was another
indie rock band. Yet, much to my dazed surprise, the Hotpipes
were able to do what I thought couldn't be done; at that moment
they cut through all the tiredness and boredom and managed to
make me excited about an indie rock band.
As I listened to each song I found myself torn between hoping
that the current song continues forever and the anxious anticipation
of what I might hear in the next song. With each song I would
have to re-adjust my mental comparisons of the Hotpipes' sound.
I seemed to hear a little bit of everything, but it seemed to
center around hints of early Mars Volta, Cursive,
Zeppelin, even Fugazi.
As the last notes of the last song faded into the sound of the
tires' road hum, I wondered if it really was that good. Certainly
tiredness or even the bleak landscape had somehow biased my listening
experience. So after several hours, a stop for gas, and several
more albums, I threw the Hotpipes back in for a re-listen (not
that I was any less tired or the landscape any less monotonous)
and again I was impressed, probably even more than the first time.
I heard things I hadn't heard before like the singer laughing,
almost at himself, at the beginning of "Rattle Cats"
or the texture of the horns in "Much Too". The more
I listened the more I obsessed over both the production and the
playing of the drums, particularly on "Song For the Late
Riser", they're simply amazing.
In all honesty the Hotpipes are what could be described as relatively
homogeneous indie rock and yet I believe they manage to stand
on their own. They are not really doing anything new or ground
breaking, but I think that this is one of the things that makes
them so good. Instead of trying to redefine a genre, they are
doing the genre very, very, well and, in doing so, making themselves
unique in the process (probably to the point that I wouldn't call
them indie rock, if that makes any sense).
Ok, so maybe the Hotpipes do not excel at everything indie. In
my opinion one of the most obnoxious trends within the scene is
pretentiousness; be it pretentious songs, pretentious musicians,
pretentious clothes, or, god forbid, pretentious fans. You have
to admit indie rock is known for being somewhat ostentatious in
nature, and that is something that the Hotpipes don't seem to
do. From lyrics to album art nothing about this band seems conceited.
Their songs are funny without being silly, serious without being
a lecture, and sad without being pitiful. The album's production
(which I find myself somewhat obsessed with) is amazingly simple
and direct with each part (drums, vocals, guitar, horns, etc)
having its own very well defined space within the whole of the
group, not the overdone over produced crap you hear all too often
anymore. Even the liner notes are simple and to the point with
the names of the band members (not what they play in the band,
just a list of the band members), the recording/mastering/artwork
credits, and a short and sweet thank you. It may seem trivial
but after looking at hundreds and hundreds of liner notes, I found
this refreshing and a good indicator of what the band is like.
Basically I can't really find anything about this album that
I don't like. In fact I liked them so much I added them as a friend
in MySpace, something I literally never do (Hotpipes would be
my fourth friend, my MySpace account is around mostly for sharing
pictures with a few people and checking out new bands). Another
thing that I don't do very often is to listen to an album over
and over, something that I have been doing for the last few months
since I've received this album. In the process of having the album
on repetitive cycle I've made pretty much everyone else listen
to it and everyone seems to like them (or at least no one has
been brave enough to tell me that they don't like them). So now
it's your turn. Go check out the Hotpipes now! Tell me I'm wrong.
- J. Sipes
2. Songs For the Late Riser
3. Women of the World Agree
4. Much Too
5. Test Song
6. Starter Kit
7. So Bored
8. Lota Lee
9. Rattle Cats
10. Downer Quitter
11. Love In 3's
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