06.18.13 — “If It Speaks” by Hospital Ships

Jordan Geiger (Hospital Ships)

If you only listen to one song today, make it “If It Speaks” by Hospital Ships (2013, from the album Destruction in Yr Soul).

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.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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