Friday, January 9, 2009

The Hosts: Detroit Psychedelics!

The Hosts

self titled

A great way to honor Ron Asheton and his sad, early passing would be to review a band from Detroit. In a town whose musical heritage and continuous contribution to rock 'n' roll is always in the forefront, The Hosts offer up a strange compliment to the better known, garage rock type music that The Motor City is better known for. On their debut album, The Hosts present what can best be termed as vintage California folk psychedelia. On the opening track "Thunder Boy", Melissa Host takes a vocal prominence that's coupled with jangling guitars and a few tasteful solos that cannot be anything but played on old guitars; one just feels it. There's also some imagery akin to the beach, although it's hard to describe further. Although I can't say "Stripper Girl" hits close to home, I've heard many stories that I'm sure plenty of you could corraborate on "She bums a smoke and she gets free drinks, but the dope ain't free, and her apartment stinks, all the troubles come double, her psychology comes for free." The song is dense with surf/western style guitar playing that enhance am emotion of solitude, but the often and never pleasant melodic violin(?) screetches lend an abrasiveness that somehow communicates flawed beauty in a way that's not to be taken too seriously.

Although the material on their debut is electric folk and psychedelic, the musical tone carries a bright powerpop feel that's a little less emotionally intense as earlier electric/psych/folk bands like Love, but songs like "I Keep Falling Down" are no less instrumentally engaging. The song "Ode To Missy Caldwell" is an almost uptempo song about a pathetic person. If there's a great dance song that's entirely negative, this is it. In true '60s psychedelic fashion, The Hosts create a political protest song, infuse it with jangly guitar licks, background vocals that sound like Tibetan chants, flutes, and some great guitar effects that sound like bee buzzing just to point out the pathetic truth that certain things currently happening make no practical sense on "Buffalo" to create a great piece that's never overbearing or "hippie" (only in the negative sense). Other tracks on their debut look to an early '70s beat with more CCR influence than Byrds such as "Pick Up Your Feet", but the results are no less powerpop and still carry a retropop feel, although slightly bluesy. They're songs push towards early '70s maintream, singer/songwriter folk rock such as "Almost Lost My Way," "Gone", or the less notable "Seize The Moment". Although the sound is not always derived from earlier sources, there's a pervasive, retro jingle/jangle and occasionally surf guitar throught the songs such as the notable "So Hard To Let Go." There's more hidden potential on the more electric tracks like "Devil Dog Road," a Summer of Love, Haight-Ashbury, blues romp that throws one back to Jefferson Airplane at The Fillmore, complete with a light show and acidic guitar solo.

As participants in "The New Paisley Movement", The Hosts are about a feel to the music and not a type of music other than psychedelic. The musical influences on their debut are broad and thus, have an audience to those with a broader musical outlook, but the songs are mostly really good and there are plenty of hidden gems, tasty psychedelic riffs, vintage Vox 12 strings and Rickenbackers to get you jingle-jangle fix, and a few powerpop beats to boot. Aside from that, the album artwork is an acid trip in and of itself. It's been a long overdue task to bring back acid, loveins, paisley, Nehru jackets, and music that's a little weird but still fun. Although in variable styles and sometimes with variable results, The Hosts have done their part to make swirling, colorful music again. One can only imagine their future possibilities.

The debut album from The Hosts is available at iTunes, CD Baby (personally preferred as an indie biz that gives a lot more back to the artists), and Amazon.


mratthew said...

Your title line is grossly ungrammatical. It presently reads essentially: "You are home on the web for all things garage...", because 'you're' is a contraction of 'you are'. I think you wanted to use the possessive 'your'. I like your website, but that's a painful piece of English to display right at the top of your page.

The Paisley Umbrella said...

I made a spelling error and was likely too tired to realize it when I created the page. A bit of a nuisance to have something so ungrammatically correct and not befitting of a writer, but wow! I guess I really hurt the guy's feelings! Luckily, I won't be asking him to send me a CD to review.