It’s not often that I’ll say that a song reminds me of Death Cab For Cutie and also of A Place to Bury Strangers. Today, our song of the day does just that. It takes a bit of patience to get to that point, though.
Hospital Ships is an indie rock band from Lawrence, Kansas. Although it’s a full band now, it started a few years ago as a solo recording project for multi-instrumentalist Jordan Geiger. They’ve released three albums, including a brand new one —Destruction in Yr Soul— which comes out today. As I understand it, the first two records are purely solo, while the new one incorporates a full band for the first time.
In addition to his Hospital Ships stuff, Geiger has spent some time in the Shearwater ever-revolving lineup.
I had never heard of Hospital Ships until a couple of days ago, when I was exploring the advance streams over at Pitchfork. The stream of the new Hospital Ships was there, and I played it two or three times in a row. Then I realized that they’re on Graveface Records, which is also home to the incredibly brilliant Casket Girls.
Since I don’t know much about Geiger or his full band, let’s just get into today’s song:
“If It Speaks” by Hospital Ships
It takes a little while to get things going , but a lot of wildly different things happen in the song. Patience pays off.
30 seconds of intro, followed by a minute and a half of instrumental. I wasn’t quite sure whether this was going to go in a krautrock or a post-rock direction or what. Geiger’s vocals, which are sort of similar to Ben Gibbard, come in around the 2:05 mark, and all bets are off. It’s neither of the above. In the press materials, Destruction in Yr Soul is described as “rural noise rock” and “epic psych-folk”. As goofy as those descriptions sound, they actually make a little bit of sense. However, the album is also described in a way that makes no sense to me: “fuzzy gospel for Situationists”. Um… Okay.
The song chugs along like a middle-America harmless “college rock” song for another minute or so, and then there’s a corner that they turn at 2:52. It’s suddenly much louder and much fuzzier.
Then at 3:35, I love the nod to J. Mascis and I love the tuned percussion. And it really makes sense. That “rural noise rock” thing makes sense in a way that I can’t exactly explain. It’s noisy and fuzzy and all that. But not in a really dense and compact “Brooklyn” way. There’s still a lot of air and a lot of open space. That makes sense in my head.
All of that about the Kansas-ness of it, the open space of it sort of gets forgotten in the last 30 seconds of the song. A lot of noise fits into a tighter space from 4:30 to the abrupt ending at 5:00. And for those 30 seconds, I’m reminded of the magnificent noise-rock icons A Place To Bury Strangers.
Pitchfork is no longer streaming the whole album, but I’ve listened to it a few times, and you should take my word for it. It’s quite good.
Visit the Graveface Records web store and scroll down to purchase a CD, vinyl, or digital download of Destruction in Yr Soul. While you’re there, also get a copy of Sleepwalking, the amazing album by Casket Girls.