Hostage Calm - Hostage Calm (Cover Artwork)

Hostage Calm

Hostage Calm: Hostage CalmHostage Calm (2010)
Run For Cover Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: OverDefinedOverDefined
(others by this writer | submit your own)

After significant hype regarding this album and a hosted stream on this very website, I was surprised that there wasn't a review of this album submitted right away. I chalk this up to how much of a departure this record represents from the band's previous material and a high degree of what might be .
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After significant hype regarding this album and a hosted stream on this very website, I was surprised that there wasn't a review of this album submitted right away. I chalk this up to how much of a departure this record represents from the band's previous material and a high degree of what might be termed as "you have to listen to it a few times to get it" syndrome. Regardless, this release represents one of the most interesting and enjoyable efforts released so far this year.

The band's previous material was essentially a melodic take on fast East Coast hardcore. Here, the band embraces keyboards, handclaps, sing-alongs, and more than a few Latin-influenced moments. Instead of Dag Nasty and Gorilla Biscuits, it's the Smiths and the experimentalism of later-era Crime in Stereo. In some ways it reminds me of Saves the Day's transition from Through Being Cool to Stay What You Are, with the lessening of distortion and greater emphasis on melody over simply raw energy.

That said, Hostage Calm still knows how to play to its strengths. The guitar playing is still creative and performed flawlessly while the drums stay busy and powerful but always within in the confines of the song. With the new emphasis on songwriting and lighter moments, the bass is given more chances to stand out and the bass player Tim Casey fills his adjusted role admirably. For a punk or hardcore band, Hostage Calm is extremely well-rounded.

One concern regarding this metamorphosis might be the vocalist, Chris Martin. While I liked his vocals on their last album Lens, it was much more of a shouting hardcore approach than straight-up singing. There have been quite a few hardcore vocalists who have made the switch over the years and while many fail, Martin has pulled off the jump. He has a unique voice, one that wouldn't be considered a classically "great voice," but I'll always take personality over the choir-boy perfection of bands like Cartel.

As usual with Hostage Calm, the political aspects of lyrics are front and center, although a little toned down and less literal than in previous efforts. "Ballots/Stones" takes its chorus lyrics ("Did you cast a ballot or a stone?")from a picket sign protesting California's recently defeated Proposition 8 while "Rebel Fatigues" looks at American wars from the perspective of the other side. Beyond that, Martin does tackle more personal issues including the difficulty of distance between loved ones ("Victory Lap"), the pains of letting go of adolescence ("Jerry Rumspringer"), and the difficulties of growing up between divorced parents ("Affidavit"). As with Lens, this release is another worth actually reading the lyrics along with the record.

As far as the songs go, there are a few clear standouts. The aforementioned "Ballots/Stones" features a keyboard laden Latin groove that wouldn't sound out of place on a Smiths or Clash record. The closer, "War on a Feeling" is one of the most straightforward tracks on the record and features a great melody over top a simple major-key chord progression. The multi-layered vocals work well and the energy of the song builds all the way until the end.

Hostage Calm's new sound should still appeal to the band's old fans but should also pique the interests of fans of bands that take more chances with punk rock like Gatsbys American Dream, newer Crime in Stereo, or even Brand New. Few bands will branch out this much this year, and this record deserves a solid chance from listeners.


People who liked this also liked:
The Flatliners - CavalcadeDear Landlord - Dream HomesThe Menzingers - Chamberlain WaitsIron Chic - Not Like ThisThe Gaslight Anthem - American SlangThe Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundJoyce Manor - Joyce ManorTouché Amoré - Parting the Sea Between Brightness and MeDescendents - Milo Goes To CollegeRVIVR - LP [12-inch]

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Levendus (April 27, 2011)

Love this album I would rate it but the ratings systems never seems to work for me on this site. 5 stars.

popsandchips (January 21, 2011)

"War On A Feeling" is the way music ought to always sound.

devianter (December 31, 2010)

vocals are meh

amplesample915 (December 12, 2010)

Lens was great, but this is even better

janhorse (December 6, 2010)


TomS (November 7, 2010)

This is poor. Clear Smiths influence which is irritating. DULL DULL DULL.

MN_DrNick (September 30, 2010)

Finally checking out and it's a fantastic album.

literamaniac (August 30, 2010)

@danpib08 See, I absolutely love melodic hardcore, and I fucking love this record (yes, more than "Lens"). Oh well, different strokes for different folks

danpib08 (August 17, 2010)

Sorry I tried but this sucks, it's cool that they are trying something different but they didn't pull it off. Lens was one of the best records I heard in a while but this just sucks.

AllFallDown (August 17, 2010)

To whoever said they dress like the Smiths now... I've been seeing this band since they first started and even a couple times when members were in a shitty band called At All Costs with horns and all that bullshit. They don't dress any different than they did three years ago when they put out the demo.

mikexdude (August 17, 2010)

I would argue, pope, that skate punk was influenced by hardcore.

thepopeofchili-town (August 16, 2010)

This is pretty cool. I hear more skatepunk influence than hardcore influence. Not album of the year, but on the list.

mikexdude (August 16, 2010)

This album is incredible.

outbreak (August 16, 2010)

Hardcore isnt entirely a jock-infested shithole, its just some bands, unfortunately, seem to attract fans who enjoy crowd punching people.

ReedAreTheUnion (August 16, 2010)

Record of the year potential for me.
As for the person talking about bands abandoning hardcore, maybe if the hardcore scene wasn't such a jock-infested shithole these days, bands wouldn't feel the need to rebel against it...

TeaEssAre (August 16, 2010)

his voice doesn't sound like Morrissey, but he adds a certain something that is a lot like morrissey.

overdefined (August 16, 2010)

There is a clear Smiths influence. His voice doesn't sound like Morrissey's, but the influence is there.

I don't personally think it sounds like Gatsby's, I think that comparison is more one of convenience than anything else. I can almost guarantee Gatsby's was not an influence on this, but the end product might have some similarities. I have heard the comparison from others and thought it would be prudent to include in the review.

Blackjaw_ (August 15, 2010)

With a band like this, everyone hears the aspects/influences they want to hear, or that they like. Me, I hear Red Animal War in some of the songs. Other people might hear 90s melodic hardcore/punk, others might hear Gatsby's or whatever... I don't know if what I'm saying even makes sense.

mikexdude (August 15, 2010)

I really don't think this sounds like Gatsbys American dream...

R3vengeTherapy (August 15, 2010)

Wasn't this already reviewed?

I like it a good amount. But the dude claiming it sounds like The Smiths and that their vocalist sounds like Morrissey is in serious need of an ear doctor visit. The person making comparisons to Gatsby's American Dream is much closer in terms of comparing them to another band.

"Ballots/Stones" is a really creative little song. It doesn't really sound like anything I've ever heard, but maybe that's because I'm an uncultured swine.

LeightonESmith (August 15, 2010)

i hate when bands abandon hardcore.
change your name if you're going to do it

Chubbyfresh (August 14, 2010)

If you think the singer sounds like morrissey you need to get your ear checked. Great album though!

cherrycolarain (August 14, 2010)

Seriously, I think one of the reasons I want to like this is because they remind me so much of Gatsby's American Dream. Maybe a few more spins will do it...

quickattack (August 14, 2010)

I think its great, definitely cool to see how these guys have changed since their older stuff.

TeaEssAre (August 13, 2010)

i honestly enjoy it, but they try TOO hard. I've watched them go from a pretty good melodic hardcore band to The Smiths Jr. They even dress like them and the main dude sings like Morrissey. They try too hard to be different. It's still enjoyable, but it isn't natural like Crime In Stereo's growth over the years.

danperrone (August 13, 2010)

really, really good. reminds me of the newer crime in stereo records, only it doesn't suck.

Mikemoak (August 13, 2010)

Rad record and rad dudes!

goodby2theBrxtnSun (August 13, 2010)

what does that mean?
should a band not "try hard" when writing and recording?

TeaEssAre (August 13, 2010)

they try too hard.

Chaos_is_Goose (August 13, 2010)

Great record, props for doing something different.

shitsfucked (August 13, 2010)

took me awhile but i love it. ballot/stones sounds a lil overproduced tho.

lysdexia (August 13, 2010)

I really like this album, and the last paragraph rules for bringing up Gatsbys.

Bryne (August 13, 2010)

Great review, great record.

Blackjaw_ (August 13, 2010)

This is this year's album that I like, recognize is objectively very good, but for whatever reason I can't get too into.

nate_derby (August 13, 2010)

Shit rules. 5 stars all day. Can't wait to play with this band again.

mcflynnthm (August 13, 2010)

This album seems to be either you love it to death (mikexdude) or you're totally indifferent. I'm in the latter camp. Listened a few times, just doesn't do anything for me.

mikexdude (August 13, 2010)

Album of the year for me, and one of my all time favorites.. Every track is a hit to me. The first half grabs, and the second one grows. Everytime I have to listen to the album all the way through... I don't even do that with Sometimes things just Disappear.

swiftjustice (August 13, 2010)

this is so poppy, i love it

inagreendase (August 13, 2010)


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