Eric Schackne

REVIEW: Hostage Calm – ‘Please Remain Calm’

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I would be the best hostage.  Typically hostages make so many ill-fated moves that obviously won’t work.  First off, there’s that one lady who freaks out right away and tries to run…she inevitably gets taken down.  Secondly, you’ll get the  overzealous young adult who’s assesses his power to be more then that of the criminals’.  He will probably end up beaten at a quick round of fists versus guns.  Let’s not forget the sly, quietly-brave employee who thinks she can press the silent ‘911 alert’ button.  It’s her accidental glance at the button that tips off the ski-masked rebels.  For the next 40 minutes or so, I’m staying calm.  Hostage Calm.  I encourage you to let this band take you hostage and force you to listen to PLEASE REMAIN CALM.  Please remain calm and don’t try to fight back or bravely turn it off; you will enjoy this.

As far as obscure openers go, I think it’s time to get to the music.

Right from the start, “On Both Eyes” untheatrically jumps into a solid album track.  This song is produced like a classic with soft-spoken angsty vocals easing us into this record.  Breaking into his falsetto keeps the higher melodies from getting too gritty, and the drums are the most intense piece of the band right now.

“Don’t Die On Me Now”  is defined by it’s sing-along chorus.  The instrumentation remains intense but very contained.  Save for a few effects here and there, Hostage Calm is an enjoyably straight-forward rock band.  I think they’ve just toned down everything in the mix, because the guitars that kick off “Brokenheartland” are distorted but tucked away.  I don’t mind this though, because the vocals and drums take interesting presidence in my ears.  This song could be a b-side off a Bayside album(say that ten times fast…Bayside b-side).

These songs are fast, but produced delicately.  “Woke Up Next To A Body” shows the first real ecclectic nature so far, and the chorus is damn catchy.  While they’re not laying down complicated riffs, this isn’t the strum-heavy punk you hear on off nights at Viper Room.  This actually feels like pop-punk/emo.  “Impossible!” proves to be the brightest sounding tune so far with an intro that could be a Matchbox Twenty riff as much as a New Found Glory progression.  I could see their shows being a lot of fun on account of their unique brand of intensity.

I would be curious what would happen to their sound if they opened it up more.  Right now it sounds like they’re playing in a club, and I think it’d be cool to hear what their songs sound like in a giant concert hall, or an ampitheater.  “May Love Prevail” does that to a certain extent actually, all the while showing more diversity in their sixties style.  “The ‘M’ Word” does that even more, throwing out an acoustic guitar backbone for strings to lift up.  Hitting an oldies mood characteristic of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, The Beachboys, or even The Beatles, this is one of my favorite tracks.  Now, completely stripped down to a chorus of a capella voices, “Patriot” delivers a tambourine-led disclaimer of shattered hope.  There’s a lot of folk influence in their punk sound and this song displays that expertly.

Back to the grind now, “Closing Remarks” brings the energy back up to rock out for another commercial track.  With the final track, “One Last Salute,” Hostage Calm weaves in and out of Springsteen-esque parts and straight-up punk breakdowns, and back to a sixties sing-a-long chorus.  The superfluous instrumental parts make each new section feel deserved and well-built.  Large orchestral hits and crash-heavy grooves throw you around and around until the distortion of a guitar eases the volume back down; it’s done.  Time to listen again.

The police have made all the arrangements for your safe delivery out of danger’s way, but it’s no luck.  Stockholm syndrome has set in and you’ll be drawn back for more from Hostage Calm.

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