(Hope Of The State, 11/2004, by The Slow Wonder)
Tuesday is Contrast Podcast Day, it's official. Colin (from one of my absolute favourite blogs, Let's kiss and make up...) has suggested the Entrance Music (To A Film) film, which is inspired. I can't tell you the number of times I've been walking down the street in the morning with an amazing song on the headphones imagining I'm the lead character in some movie I've written...
I have a vivid imagination.
Anyway, my choice is somewhat controversial, given the band's more recent output, and all being fair should give Jamie the chance to mock me back for making fun of Marion and Mansun in the past. Hope Of The States never stood a chance in the credibility stakes really: major label deal, massively pretentious concepts, weedy-sounding singer... But they were a great band. Were, I say, as the last single was fairly useless, over-bombastic nonsense. But The Lost Riots was a fantastic album. I got carried away when I reviewed it (see the list, right), giving it a ten out of ten at the time, and although maybe I've tempered a little since then, I still stand by it. The Lost Riots is the place where Mogwai and Godspeed and Explosions In The Sky meet accessibility and songs, scope and emotion. My choice was The Black Amnesias, the opening instrumental, which distils the aforementioned post-rock heroes into a three-minute rush, a heady blend of picked acoustic guitar, crashing drums, loud soft dynamics, thrashed out distortion.
That's the track most appropriate for the podcast, but it's not the best on the album. It's instrumental, for a start, which doesn't let you experience the most controversial aspect of Hope Of The States: Sam Herlihy's vocals. These are the breaker for a new listener - weedy and lame on first listen, in my opinion (though certainly not one shared by all) these reveal cracked emotion more than a classically-trained singer ever could. These are what you'll hear on today's track. Just the one song from the album, it should be all you need. This is the kind of song you turn up loud, because the opening vocals are so close you'll find yourself drawn in. It's a builder; and by the end you'll either have switched off or you'll be on the edge of your seat straining to hear every last detail.
The first time I heard this was a P2P download from a Steve Lamacq radio show. He spoke over the end, as his job insists upon; but he regretted it, you could tell. Listen to the album version: it's a breathtaking finish to a track with soaring feedback and positively aching strings.
Just looking up the website now, and the band have split up. Yes. I didn't know that, and I'm not really bothered, because they've left me with probably the one good album they were capable of. Listen to Enemies/Friends, or Don't Go To Pieces, which sound remarkably poignant given the subsequent tragic death of founding guitarist Jimi Lawrence.
Hope Of The States - Black Dollar Bills
Artist: Hope Of The States
Website: hopeofthestates.co.uk, Myspace
Recommended: The Lost Riots
More: Hype Machine; elbo.ws, The Daily Growl, Keep Hope Inside
Tags: Hope Of The States; The Lost Riots; Black Dollar Bills; Contrast Podcast; film