My Hotel Year – The Curse

My Hotel Year
The Curse

Ladies and gentleman, faithful readers of DOA, for five years now I’ve been writing, hoping that someone, somewhere is reading and that my bullshit opinions are helping someone make some sort of decision about an album, every once in a while. I don’t ask for much more. I’ve seen all sorts of weird stuff hit my desk in this time, but good or bad, I’ve refrained from stringing the words “holy,” “fucking,” and “shit” together. It’s not that I have some moral or linguistic objection to these words. They just seem too easy, too reactionary, too un-descriptive to consider using.

But seriously, folks: holy fucking shit. I’m sitting here listening to this new My Hotel Year album, The Curse and somehow being unnecessarily vulgar and in-eloquent describes my feeling about this band. Besides that fact that anybody with a shred of musical ingenuity dropped emo like a bad habit five years ago, besides the fact that Doghouse Records would sign Clay Aiken if he picked up a guitar and three friends, besides the fact that my editor keeps telling my to try and find nice things to say about bands, My Hotel Year are an objectively terrible band, lacking any musical creativity or ambition.

I understand that there needs to be indie rock for 12-year-old girls, but I sure as hell don’t have to listen to it. My Hotel Year doesn’t even bother staying away from the typical emo stereotypes that have forced formerly welcoming labels like Jade Tree and Deep Elm to scoff at the “emo” tag. The guitars “rage” in a vaguely post-hardcore, Braid-ian manner; the lead singer hits most of his notes and elongates the vowels during the chorus; his favorite Dungeons and Dragons buddy has his back on the “emotional” parts, screaming along, interjecting, and just making generally terrible music. The packaging features the sort of ambiguous abstractness that hardcore and the tougher half of post-hardcore bands adopt. Honestly, the nicest thing I can say about this band is that the musicians aren’t wearing tight retro t-shirts on the back of the album cover (they’ve chosen matching black suits instead).

Albums like The Curse make me wonder if Braid and Jawbox’s influence on music was a net positive. On the one hand, we had a couple of fantastic bands that played with genre boundaries and made some really amazing music. On the other hand, we have bands like My Hotel Year, which continues to milk these band’s material for years, diluting their potency for those of us who had their path to independent music paved by those legendary bands.

I realize I’m probably being a little mean. My Hotel Year is not singularly responsible for the proliferation of post-hardcore mediocrity, but right now, it sure as hell feels like it. There was probably a lot of blood, sweat, and hard work that went into making The Curse, probably a whole lot more blood, sweat, and hard work than it took my to put it in my CD player and cue up Microsoft Word. That being said, there’s simply nothing to recommend about a band that shows absolutely no musical ambition or creativity. There are bands a lot worse than My Hotel Year – bands without a shred of musical competency, bands that can’t write a tune, bands that probably have less honorable intentions than My Hotel Year. In theory though, there are few bands that upset me more.