Hotel Books – Run Wild, Stay Alive

A branding of understanding and ranting and raving
won’t lead to enchanting and saving and saving 
unless you are ready to let go of the feelings of old.
 I feel more alone when I think of the way that you love me.

6. 3. 16

I remember when Almost Happy Here, But I Never Feel at Home came out two years back. I had never had a record like it. It was spoken word combined with beautiful ambient guitars. It contained heart as well as destructive heart-break. It flourished with love while drowning in apathy. It noted truth as well the lies we live at times. This record eventually grew to have a large impact on me and processing my break-up with my girlfriend at the time (now my fiancé). Songs like Two Eight OneDreaming or Sinking, and Cult Leader helped me be reflective upon who I was and who I wasn’t. Lead-man Cam Smith was genuine about his brokenness. As I learned to be the same, it helped me ask for forgiveness and learn to forgive myself for not being who I was supposed be. This forgiveness enabled me to pursue who I wasn’t. Almost Happy Here… is one of my top 50 albums of all time. On the other hand, their release last year, Run Wild, Young Beauty (not to be confused with this new record, Run Wild, Stay Alivehad no chance for me from the get-go. My girlfriend and I just recently got back together. I had already left that time of life which made the previous record so therapeutic and I didn’t need it like I needed the first. Now, in the wake of the release of Run Wild, Stay Alive, I again had the option of ignoring the record because of my lack of need for it. But giving into that kind of thinking would be the evidence that I would need this record eventually.

I’ll begin with the sound. Instrumentally, this is Hotel Book’s best record. This album contrasts the previous two. Almost Happy Here, But I Never Feel at Home, like I mentioned before, was mostly ambient. Run Wild, Young Beauty was ambient also, but also had more chorus and shades of alternative and post-rock in songs like Love Life Let GoTwo Steps Back, and I Died With YouRun Wild, Stay Alive is a deeper step into the alternative and post-rock vibes of Run Wild, Young Beauty. Part of the reason I didn’t love Run Wild, Young Beauty was the lack of change instrumentally. This is also my favorite part of Run Wild, Stay Alive. Each song is unique instrumentally. The guitar work is impressive and concise. Moving from an ambient genre where everything is so spacey, the band transitioned so smoothly in making everything crisp and direct. Cam Smith is also a lot more versatile vocally on this record. Every Day, The Same is driven by a beautiful chorus of Smith’s screams. Where We Sleep Is Where We Dream has Cam singing in the chorus and the bridge. It is a beautiful change of pace which translates well with the genre change. Friendly Crossfire features Levi the Poet (fellow spoken word artist who is one of the best lyricists alive in my opinion) and hits hard. Then there are also songs like Constant Conflicts (Hotel Books seems to be using similar techniques to mewtihoutYou, whether intentionally or not, who frequently make slight changes to song titles from past records for songs on new records, Constant Conflicts vs. Constant Collapse from Almost Happy Here… which also was song four on that record) which display beautiful group harmonies to accompany Cam’s voice. As much as it seems I am raving about the change, the best part of Hotel Books is when Cam simply talks from the heart which is still present and thriving on the record.

Lyrically, I glean more and more each listen to each song. This is my favorite part of the band. Every word is intentional. I find different lines meaningful at different stages of life. Spoken word, although a little less prevalent on this record with more screaming and singing for some choruses and bridges, tends to be just as much if not more reflective of poetry than song-writing. This is another thing which makes the genre shift so amazing. With the ambient style, there is a lot of room for extra lyrics and stretching 4 bars into 8. But with this new direction, Cam has probably had to tighten up his song structure lyrically, yet I found no decline in the quality or clarity of his lyrics with this record. Cam A wonderful example of how great a lyricist Cam is can be found in the chorus of Broke Love. Cam sings, Your heart is on fire when you water down your words. You started much higher before you found the Lord and you justify the way you hate yourself with forgiveness. Objects of obsession in constant repetition. This cycle where we try to find reasons that we’re living. I’m a product of the products I let into my heart before I loved you. Although I am not living in the brokenness that I previously mentioned in the beginning of the blog, I am still broken and have the choice every day to ignore it, define myself by it, or seek to overcome it. Listening to Hotel Books reminds me not to be overcome by, but aware of, my flaws while pursuing who I hope to become.


For Fans Of: Levi the Poet, La Dispute, Being as An Ocean
Favorite Songs: I Think You See Where This Is Headed, Where We Sleep Is Where We Dream, Constant Conflicts, Friendly Crossfire, Alcoholocaust, Broke Love
Top 10 Potential: Yes
Album Cover: 9/10

Hotel Books – Run Wild, Stay Alive (Full-Album Stream)

Other Notable Releases This Week
Zach Bolen – 1001
Beartooth – Aggressive
Amber Arcades – Fading Lines

Did an album come out this past Friday you liked? Have you ever listened to Hotel Books or anything like them before? What genre do you find you gravitate towards naturally? What genre is growing on you?

Album Cover:


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