Featured Album: History Will Never Hold Me by The Hourly Radio
THE HOURLY RADIO: HISTORY WILL NEVER HOLD ME (Kirtland)
WHO: Fresh-faced Dallas four-piece reaffirm the joys of shoegazing mod rock on astonishingly mature debut.
WHAT: Ever since moving to the States almost 20 years ago, I’ve encountered (essentially suburban) American groups whose rabid Anglophilia is apparent in their overly-ambitious attempts to blend The Beatles, Stones, Bunnymen, Stone Roses, Ride, U2, Smiths, Radiohead and the like. Typically, of course, such groups find they have set their heights too high to reach even halfway towards their goal. But The Hourly Radio’s debut album – 11 songs, 40 minutes, no waste – exudes such remarkable confidence that they could well prove an exception. Built around the smooth yet powerful voice of Aaron Classon and the chiming guitar-work of Ryan Short (think Brown-Squire, Morrissey-Marr, Bono-Edge), backed competently by the rhythm section of bassist Tim Jansen and drummer Adam Vanderkolk, The Hourly Radio sound like how Longwave (the last such Brit-sounding Americans to have secured a major deal) should have done. That THR has already toured Europe and the States off its own steam indicates a drive as well as a desire.
WHY: “Like many young bands they weren’t good enough to copy other bands and this proved to be a blessing as they were able to develop their sound and approach songwriting organically eliminating the chances of the band sounding routine.” That’s the group’s own bio talking, and you can’t blame them for wanting to believe it. But to be fair, while The Hourly Radio can hardly claim to be unique, they don’t sound like any particular one of their many influences; they ultimately just sound like themselves.
WINNERS: ‘Crime Does Pay’ is the obvious stand-out: you’ll hear it the moment you visit their myspace page and their web site, and it’s also featured on their 7” single. Apart from being a great pop song, it’s begging for a dance remix. ‘Not A Victim’ emits similarly contagious exuberance, while the acoustic introduction to ‘Means To An End’ introduces a welcome change of pace.
WORDS: “On holiday you woke me with the dawn/said that everything has changed and now you’re gone/how I miss her, those sheets and all those drugs/and lying awake at night to wonder what we’d done.” From ‘Please Forget,’ not atypical of The Hourly Radio’s somewhat melodramatic poetry.
WHINE: That 99% of other rock bands don’t sound so confident on their debut independent album.
WEB: The Hourly Radio make full use of the Internet. There’s a well-designed web site, a busy myspace page, and a blogspot too. The latter is riddled with enthusiastic posts from the road, where nothing seems to have brought them down. Like this, from Bend, Oregon, where the venue lacked a sound system: “We needed to find a PA and mics within 2 hours and all in a little ski town where we didn’t know anyone. We went and ate thinking the show most likely wasn’t going to happen, but after dinner we saw a couple guys who were playing songs for tourists in the town square for tips… and they had a PA! So we listened to a couple songs and during their break explained to them our situation. We ended up buying the guys dinner in exchange for letting us borrow their PA.” If only every group’s travels could be so blessed.
WINE: They’re summery, they’re breezy, they’re classy, they’re well-rounded, and you haven’t heard the last of them. Oh, and they’re also whiter than white. Listen to The Hourly Radio’s debut album with a glass of the Cristina Ascheri Arneis 2004 in your hand.
NOTE TO NYC READERS: THE HOURLY RADIO PLAYS THE ANNEX ON ORCHARD STREET AUGUST 17, 24 AND 31.