Artist: Hostage Calm
Album: Please Remain Calm
Label: Run For Cover Records
It’s time for a little history lesson about myself. One of the first movies that I ever fell in love with was a film starring Tom Hanks called That Thing You Do! It’s about the rise and fall of a one-hit wonder band called (appropriately) The Wonders. There was something about the style of music that I really fell in love with; it’s the reason I picked up playing drum set. I always thought it was the coolest thing in the world how they blew up as fast they did, purely because they were doing something they loved. Since that movie, I’ve found groups that replicate that style of music, but none that made me feel the way that movie did. I’ve always appreciated Hostage Calm, and I’ve even seen them twice. I was never in love with them, but I could respect them for what they were doing. I was generally excited about this release to come out because I really liked their song “The M-Word” on the Run For Cover Records compilation, and I hoped that their newer material would be an expanded version of that sound. When I first took a spin through Please Remain Calm, the smile on my face was so wide that I couldn’t help but laugh on the bus as to my giddiness. This is one of the best records of the year without a doubt, and the best part is it’s for so many different reasons.
First and foremost: you will not hear a record like Please Remain Calm this year. Plain and simple, it’s one of a kind. The punk community, while they have its outliers and standouts, is relatively saturated with similar releases that sound and say the same things. Please Remain Calm hits you in the face with some of the most beautiful harmonies that honestly are really ballsy. If you listen to the span of Hostage Calm’s discography, they started as basically a hardcore band, and to hear how they’ve transitioned to what their sound is truly remarkable. Some may talk shit on them because of that, but I think it’s a true testament to the human experience. If Lens was their outlet for their youthful angst, Please Remain Calm is their matured outlook on a new point in their lives. This isn’t purely just talking about the lyrics of the songs, it’s the overall approach to the record. Musically, the band takes the time to integrate a large variety of instruments to help keep a more dynamic feel to the record that has you both wanting to two step in the pit but also dance with a girl in a cute sundress. With songs like “Don’t Die On Me Now” you get the punk vibe you fell in love with Hostage Calm for, and then you can move onto the song “May Love Prevail” and you’ll find yourself stomping your feet to do the bass drum and sleigh bells. I’m absolutely in love with how Hostage Calm perfectly weaves all the different sounds that listeners may not be used to hearing in punk, because frankly the scene needs something new. I’m getting so bored of all the same old stuff because it’s just becoming tiring. Please Remain Calm is nothing but a breath of fresh air that will be of interests to all ages and backgrounds.
Vocally, I’m honestly in awe with what Hostage Calm has done with Please Remain Calm. While the nostalgic voice of Chris is still on the forefront, the band took their harmonies to the next level with sweeping background vocals that sound straight out of a barbershop. It’s not even really fair to call them background vocals in my opinion, because they are so necessary to the overall sound of the record that they almost sit on the same level as the leads. There’s a song on this record, which I won’t tell you, that will surprise you. At first you’re going to be so confused, and then if you step back, you’re going to be enveloped by the overwhelming beauty of the song. I’m not telling you what it is, because it’s better to just let it happen, not expect it. Lyrically, the songs are in line with their self-titled. What I mean is the band has obvious discontent and frustration with the world they were thrown into, but at the same time they take a time to try and put a positive spin on it. You can’t help but smile, and their really isn’t enough of that in this world right now. The boys really did a beautiful job of crafting a record, not just putting together a series of songs. All the songs make sense in regards to their order and transition. I keep listening to the record trying to find something wrong with it, and I really can’t. It’s the kind of record you just put on in your car, drive, and get lost in it. At least that’s what I do when I’m riding the bus. I don’t find myself listening to a specific song on the record, but rather, just it as a body of work.
This review is a bit longwinded, but I think that’s a testament to the emotion and feelings Please Remain Calm has evoked in me. In a time in my life where I am so frustrated with how no matter how many hours I work at my two jobs, I continue to struggle to make ends meet, and then I’m expected to act like a normal college student. Hostage Calm created a record that harkens back to a time when things aren’t so different than ours now. Economic struggle, fighting for equality, Please Remain Calm is a record that is a beautiful portrait of what it is to be a young adult in a post-war society. But more specifically, Hostage Calm has created one of the best albums of 2012. And that is a fact.
Written By: Tyler Osborne