Thursday, October 30, 2008
Houston Calls: We have no problem here.
What's unique about Houston Calls isn't just their ability to craft some of the best uptempo hooks in music today (though that certainly applies, too). It's their ability to convey wide ranges of genuine emotions, not just in one album, but in single songs.
In "Modest Manifesto," Tom Keiger sings of disheartening "graves of debt," a reflection on the difficulty to balance doing what you love with making a decent living. Building upon that theme, in "Life Won't Wait," Keiger laments, "I've got no four walls to call my own," while revealing a not-so-clandestine love for the Bouncing Souls; "A Shot in the Dark" says, just within its title, how making it in the music industry and in the realm of romance both require not only hard work and dedication, but also quite a bit of luck.
As usual, the band succeeds with their singalong tracks ("Modest Manifesto," "Life Won't Wait," "A Shot in the Dark," and the gang-vocal glory of "Abandone"). Their ballads generally fare relatively well ("Stay With Me Tonight," "The Oaks on Prince St."), but their strength was, is, and likely will remain with their most uptempo tracks.
"It's disheartening and it drives me crazy," Keiger sings of the music scene in "Modest Manifesto." A song later, he changes his tune and sticks up his chin: "Whatever was I thinking? The best times of my life are just beginning." Throughout the album's examinations of both relationships and the difficulties of making it in the music business, no matter how hard either one seems, the band maintains a decided and determined optimism, making them a true gem for listeners.
Hopefully, Houston Calls won't fall with this record. But if they do, fans can rest easy: They'll get back up again, and if their evolution up to this point is any indicator, they'll be even better when they do.
*By Jess, who rediscovered her love for shortbread cookies today.