Rocky Votolato - Hospital Handshakes (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Rocky Votolato

Hospital Handshakes (2015)

No Sleep Records

A nice accompaniment to Votolato’s eighth record is your favorite beverage on a lazy morning or even after a long day of work. For this review’s purpose, let’s use coffee.

Rocky Votolato’s Hospital Handshakes is an experience in a record that is much more than Votolato’s return to music. The singer-songwriter sounds just as fresh as he did throughout his 15-year career. After a short slump, Votolato is back with three years worth of pain he’s finally able to let out.

The album starts on its own folky punk roots that begin the experience -- mellow guitars and light vocals that accentuate the feeling of despair with the smallest shred of hope. The bassline and groove of “Boxcutter” will immediately grip you into Hospital Handshakes. Lo-fi indie-folk groove shows that Votolato may have lost his charm at one point, but he’s making up for it one song at a time. The songs are perfect anthems for just settling into the album. “The Hereafter” is reminiscent of the band Live’s song “Lift Me Up.”

By track five, hopefully the caffeine jitters have kicked in for your experience because Votolato starts banging out the heavy hitters, creating an arc for the album’s sound. The beginning jitters of "White Knuckles" have a rockabilly feel that will start your leg tapping if it wasn’t already. From there, the record has a melodic punk vibe that gives the album a little more drive and allows the more intricate parts to present themselves.

Followng the punk songs, Votolato gets into full on folk mode. “Sawdust And Shavings” is a minimalistic piece full of heavy emotion that will undoubtedly settle you after the jitters of punk songs. Votolato’s structure is interesting because of the way it separates genres into their own sections that seamlessly format the album.

Votolato’s first album in three years is a great transitional piece just in time for the seasons changing. The album is a nice return and offers great insight to the variety of Votolato’s sound. Rocky Votolato’s eighth solo album proves that he can still craft original songs that are assorted and fresh without following the typical format of a traditional indie folk record.