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Hotels – On The Casino Floor

Hotels formed in New York but relocated to Seattle after Blake Madden realized the buildings in Frasier looked prettier than the ones in Friends . Their style of music is …. style . The lines of demarcation between glamour and kitsch begin to blur just as quickly as Hotels guitars sharpen. They are ‘ Julie Cruise meets Kraftwerk ‘, part dream pop, part surf, part electro post-punk.

Even the name Hotels is perfect. After all, what is a Hotel? To some it’s a place of excitement and glitz, to others, a banal, sterile, faceless Hell. Hotels capture that duality in their music. Puzzled? Well hold tight to your seat because they’ve only gone and made a concept album, – a concept album about a secret agent dispatched to a Casino Planet to battle an evil overlord. (Oh come on, ALL concept albums are barking mad) In any case, Madden warned us! (See interview)

Big risk though, the concept album. As admirable as they surely are in terms of ambition they are also by their very nature, confining. From the word go the artist is restricting his or her vision. Why put yourself in chains? I suppose it is in the attempt to leave behind a special legacy. If you think the idea of landing on a casino planet to be ludicrously far fetched then I refer you to the ‘alternate reality’ that is Las Vegas. In the middle of a desert, 130 square miles of insanity. Where every half a second, a million visitors drop 50 cents into a machine and 999,999 hearts go broke. It’s another planet believe me.

Imagine a Broadway musical, based not on the Wizard of Oz or ABBA but rather the science fiction of the seventies and eighties – Logans Run, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers – anything all hair and teeth, scantily clad in lycra – now reposition that musical in the hazy, neon cauldron of Vegas, a city that hosts most of the worlds largest, most ridiculous Hotels, and you begin to have an approximation of this album.

On The Casino Floor is the best concept album since Lift To Experience and their wonderful The Texas Jerusalem Crossroads . At seven tracks it may be a little short but at least it’s Blakes Seven and Madden sings like a mixture between Ian Curtis and HAL 2000 , all flat dispassion. (Ie he sounds like Paul Banks ) Play out tune ‘Sleep In Fame’ is the ultimate pay off, an infernally atonal verse blossoms into the most gorgeous of chorus’s.

“Hello again my friend, is there any way out of here?”

kerrrrrCHING!!

There’s a thin line between madness and genius. It’s a great place to be and Hotels are right there now, clinging on.

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