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On Thursday May 7, I went to Chop Suey to see Hotels, with Erik Blood and Silver Teeth. Oddly enough, I had just met Blood the week before through mutual friends at the My Bloody Valentine show, but had no idea who he was until a few days after the fact. Unfortunately the show began earlier than I expected, and I missed Silver Teeth. Chop Suey often seems to start weekday shows on the early side, with the first band playing at 8:30, and while that's a good practice for getting in a crowd who might not normally get to shows, it does tend to throw off the regular concert-goers. Still, I have more than one friend who'd appreciate seeing more clubs set earlier start times for shows.

Erik Blood is a member of Seattle band the Turn-ons, and created his "solo" album for music that didn't fit with that band. However, not only did all the members of the Turn-ons contribute to the album, most if not all of them also joined on stage along with three other musicians for the backing band, creating a seven-piece lineup. Musically, Blood started from a basic mid-'90s alternative rock sound, with influences from shoegaze and pop. His song "To Leave America," which I recognized from KEXP airplay, was a good example of this style. However, he soon showed his skill with a variety of styles and a knack for catchy tunes. Saying he was going to try something different, he played a slow R&B crooner that, most of the way through the song, unexpectedly broke into a lovely shoegazery guitar wash (reminiscent of Kitchens of Distinction, I thought). It was a neat juxtaposition of styles, as was a later song that clearly drew upon '60s pop music. I really enjoyed the whole set, and although I wasn't able to pick up the CD The Way We Live that night, I hope to do so soon.

Hotels are becoming a challenge for me: there are only so many ways to say "I love this band!", after all. Their music is dynamic and complex but fits together with precision; it sounds full, but not overly busy. Often it feels very joyful even when the lyrics are wistful or bitter, and as I've remarked before, it urges the listener to get up and move. Indeed, before playing "Hydra," lead singer Blake declared, "You ought to dance more!", and while no real outright dancing ensued (this was a Seattle hipster audience, after all), there was definitely movement in the audience. Their moodier pieces, such as "The Heart That Hears Like A Bat," have a grand sweep to them not unlike the cinematic cabaret sound of Mono in VCF; it's perhaps not surprising then that their next album, currently in the works, is to have a spy-movie "James Bond in space" theme to it. Much to my delight, they gave us a taste of that next album by debuting a new song, "The Bat Watusi," which was perhaps a bit harder-edged and sounded great. Expect to keep reading more happy reviews of Hotels from me; better yet, go check them out yourself.


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