Concert preview: The Hotelier uncovers its Goodness
The Hotelier's 2014 sophomore album,Home, Like NoPlace Is There, is a fiery, cathartic affair built on singer/screamer Christian Holden's trapped, desperate words and instrumentals that claw and gnash like a prisoner scratching at the door of his or her solitary holding cell. "I can't find my way around this," Holden howls at one point, coming on like an ensnared wolf resigned to chewing off a limb.
Goodness (Tiny Engines), released earlier this year, finds the Massachusetts crew gradually turning a corner, embracing a lighter, more hopeful approach that reveals itself in everything from the music (field recordings of birds and moments of outright silence interrupt the usual instrumental barrage) to Holden's words, which are increasingly rooted in the natural world, referencing astral bodies, fawns and rivers.
"My friend Alyssa summed it up [by saying] that ifHome was a record that was written in the suburbs thenGoodness was a record that was written in the woods," said Holden, who was born and raised in a town he described as "on the edge of rural western Massachusetts and suburban central Massachusetts." "Thinking about what is natural in the world was a big question onGoodness. What is natural and what is real and what is good?"
The record is further punctuated by gentle interludes named for precise geographic coordinates in the New England wilderness (see: "N 43° 59' 38.927" W 71° 23' 45.27''").
"One is this waterfall in the White Mountains where I always hike, the next one is this campsite … and the third is the spot where I often walk every full moon," Holden said. "For a while we even did these werewolf parties there where we would have these big fires."
The influence of the natural world further bleeds into the cyclical themes that surface throughout, as Holden traces the life cycle from its first spark ("Goodness Pt. 2" presents the narrator in a naked, birth-like state) through death (the concept of mortality weighs heavily on "Opening Mail for My Grandmother").
"Coming from someone in New England who experiences all four seasons, I think I understand the world as naturally existing in these cycles," said Holden, who joins his bandmates for a concert at Double Happiness on Sunday, July 10. "Our lives are shaped by good and bad and light and dark."
It's a cycle further reflected in the band's evolving discography, withGoodnessarriving like spring at the tail end ofHome'slong, cold winter.
"Going intoGoodness we thought, 'OK, we did a lot on [Home] that we don't have to do anymore,'" Holden said. "I wrote that record as a healing process for myself. It was a way for me to contextualize everything that happened, document it and take it out of my brain. When I look back now, I look back on it as something that happened and that I healed from, and not a dark place."
7 p.m. Sunday, July 10
482 S. Front St.,
Told Slant, Bellows