Travel. Romance. Solitude. Rest…
Welcome to where hearts go broke. Walk the halls late at night; behind each door is a story – end credits for films never made, songs for dancers with tears and smoke in their eyes, soundtracks to star-crossed love. Post-punk basslines, Swedish pop melodies, cavernous surf guitar, washes of sad movie strings echo down the hall. Enjoy your stay.
Part three of the movie-themed Cinemascope trilogy of EPs.
Part two of the movie-themed Cinemascope trilogy of EPs.
The first installment in the movie-themed Cinemascope trilogy of EPs.
On The Casino Floor
On The Casino Floor sees Hotels take their addictive and singular meld of post-punk, shoegaze rock and cinematic pop and launch it into outer space. The band has managed to leap headlong beyond the consummate songcraft of acclaimed sophomore album Where Hearts Go Broke into the creation of a wildly inventive and immersive song-suite. The concept album’s seven masterful cuts tell the story of a secret agent, his former mentor and current arch-nemesis, and a nefarious prince’s plan to destroy Earth during the grand opening of the universe’s only outer space casino complex… The scene for this epic adventure is set by ‘From The West’, Blake Madden’s mellifluous baritone imparting a romantic yet edgy tale in which “love becomes a home” over tumbling drums and wooshing synths. This initial propulsion is halted by the gorgeous Brian-Wilson-meets-Mercury-Rev melancholy of ‘Lonely Islands’, with its shimmering yet hesitant melodies and fuzz-bass crescendos. The title track is perhaps the album’s dreamiest and most uplifting cut, enrapturing the listener with over seven minutes of majestic astral pop, before noir-punk single ‘The Bat Watusi’ ups the tempo with its insistent rhythm section, sci-fi synths and unashamedly rocking guitars. The song repeatedly strips itself back to a muscular yet dreamy core, only to build into a tight celestial rock frenzy. The brief instrumental ‘Smith Lands On The Casino Planet’ reprises the synth theme of ‘From The West’ before ‘Trouble At The Consulate’ darkens the mood. Akin to prime New Order, its reverb-laden bassline, metronomic drums and yearning synths muster a brooding anxiety-disco vibe. Then, the cascading guitars of finale ‘Sleep In Fame’ bring to mind the John Barry theme to the classic Bond movie You Only Live Twice, doused in some of the best shoegaze and dream-rock dynamics you’re likely to hear. It’s the perfect goosebump-raising send-off to an incredible album, tying up the album’s narrative ideas before the final credits roll.
The Heart That Hears Like A Bat
‘The Heart That Hears Like A Bat’ is a song as wonderful as its title, a gorgeously shadowy piece of film noir Bond pop. Tremolo guitars and vibraphone shimmer over the inimitable Hotels rhythm section like moonlight on a swimming pool, while Blake Madden intones a pulpy tale of “young girls crying” and “young lovers dying”. It’s beautiful, effortlessly cool, and once again proves Hotels as kings of pop melody and mood. To round out the release come remixes of two more tracks from Where Hearts Go Broke. ‘Leilani’ is remixed by original Hotels keyboard player Rich Spitzer, AKA Nite Club, who pairs the catchy synth line and vocals of the original with a drum ’n’ bass racket. Bizarre, funky and addictive. ‘Near The Desert, Near The City’ is remixed by Perth’s Justin Manzano, AKA tin Man, who has also remixed Hidden Shoal’s Apricot Rail. tin Man foregrounds the aching nuances of the original by stripping it back and laying the bare bones of the song in a shimmering bath of shoegaze drone and dubby throb.
Where Hearts Go Broke
From the opening salvo of single ‘Hydra’ to glorious finale ‘Flight Of The Navigator’, Where Hearts Go Broke takes the listener on a thrilling musical journey through airports, streets, bars and, yes, hotels, populated with people falling in and out of love, lost in the gutter but always looking to the stars. This is the most relentlessly paced, hauntingly melodic, damn catchy pop music you’ve never heard, each song an end credit for the weary traveller or the romantic dancer; a tune you should listen to just before you die. Throughout this addictive album, crisp, propulsive drumming and beautifully melodic bass are buoyed up by sizzling synths and chiming guitars, with Blake Madden intoning urgent, compelling vocal lines. It’s all here: the swooning nu-gaze surge of ‘Near The Desert, Near The City’; the edgy guitar clang of ‘Port Of Saints’; the gorgeous Bond-esque epic ‘The Heart The Hears Like A Bat’, with its tremolo guitar and vibraphone rippling out into the night; and the impossibly sublime ‘Café Martinique’, where the tumbling majesty of Joy Division meets fast-paced chamber pop, with one of the most blissed-out finales you’re likely to hear.
Thank You For Choosing...
Hotels’ brilliant debut album which gave the world it’s first taste of their unique synth-heavy mix of dark post-punk and upbeat new wave pop.
Hotels is the moniker of composer and bassist Blake Madden. Founded in New York in 2003, Hotels presented a unique synth-heavy mix of dark post-punk and upbeat new wave pop, on display on the band’s 2005 self-released debut Thank You For Choosing… Madden moved to Seattle in 2006, creating two different divisions of the band on opposite coasts, both of which can be heard on their 2009 follow-up and Hidden Shoal debut Where Hearts Go Broke. Soon after, Madden folded the New York division to concentrate on creating music in Seattle, where Hotels performed at festivals like Bumbershoot and Capitol Hill Block Party, and were in regular rotation on Seattle’s KEXP radio. In 2011, Hotels recorded the intergalactic Bond-esque concept album On The Casino Floor, followed by a movie-themed trilogy of EPs entitled Cinemascope (2012–13).
Currently, Madden is at work on the first new full-length Hotels album in over four years, Night Showers. In a deliberate break from tradition, Madden has left out the synthesizers that defined the Hotels sound for years, instead augmenting a standard bass, drums, and guitar line-up with a fresh new combination of vibes, trumpet, violin, and viola. Night Showers is set to be recorded and released in late 2015/early 2016.
Hidden Shoal is excited to end the celebration of its 10th year of existence with the new compilation album Eat Your Friends, comprising remixes and covers of Hidden Shoal artists, by Hidden Shoal artists. This freely downloadable album not only showcases the wealth of original music released through Hidden Shoal, but also the creative ingenuity and deft musical touch of the remixers and cover artists.
From searing solar-flared adaptations to delicately reconstructed covers, deep space jam reworkings, and shimmering ambient tapestries, Eat Your Friends reimagines the Hidden Shoal discography in new and beautiful ways, playing to all the strengths of the roster’s dizzying array of talent.
Includes remixes and covers by: Antonymes, Arc Lab, Glanko, Wayne Harriss, Liminal Drifter, Makee, Chloe March, Markus Mehr, Erik Nilsson, REW<<, Slow Dancing Society, Tin Manzano, Willem Gator, and Zealous Chang of music by: Arc Lab, Brother Earth, Cheekbone, City of Satellites, Medard Fischer, Gilded, Glanko & Daniel Bailey, Kryshe, Memorybell, Erik Nilsson, perth, Slow Dancing Society, Tangled Star, Umpire, and Zealous Chang.
Eat Your Friends is available now as a free download via Bandcamp and is also streamable via SoundCloud. Listen and then throw yourself into the wormhole as you explore the originals and more work by the remixers and cover artists. For all the filmmakers, games designers and others in need of engaging music, don’t forget that all tracks in our catalogue are available for licensing (film, tv, games, compilations etc).
Hidden Shoal is extremely excited to be celebrating its 10th birthday this month. It’s hard to believe that back in May 2006, Perth-based musicians Cam Merton, Stuart Medley and Malcolm Riddoch began Hidden Shoal Recordings as a means to put out releases by local artists. Tim Clarke, based in Melbourne, joined the team in 2007. Hidden Shoal has since gone on to become a much-loved independent label and publisher, releasing over 120 albums from a diverse range of international artists and licensing music from its catalogue across film, tv, web and compilation.
Stay tuned for special anniversary announcements in the coming months!
‘The Heart That Hears Like A Bat‘ is a song as wonderful as its title, a gorgeously shadowy piece of film noir Bond pop. Tremolo guitars and vibraphone shimmer over the inimitable Hotels rhythm section like moonlight on a swimming pool, while Blake Madden intones a pulpy tale of young girls crying and young lovers dying . It s beautiful, effortlessly cool, and once again proves Hotels as kings of pop melody and mood. The track is lifted from Hotels brilliant sophomore album Where Hearts Go Broke.
We’re very excited to announce that the full Hotels‘ discography has now joined the Hidden Shoal Publishing catalogue. From the band’s utterly brilliant debut Thank You For Choosing through to their most recent series of Cinemascope EPs, Hotels create a bewitching brew of dark post-punk and upbeat new wave pop. Driving basslines, Swedish pop melodies, cavernous surf guitar and washes of sad movie strings wind their way around Blake Madden’s unmistakable baritone vocals.
The tracks from all six Hotels releases along with a number of remixes are now available for licensing (master & sync cleared) for film, tv, web, games, compilations and more. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any licensing enquiries. Read more about Hotels and stream their music here.
Throughout the month of May 2012, Hidden Shoal Recordings is celebrating its sixth birthday. Later in the month will be the release of the latest free sampler album, Triangulating Nature, which compiles 12 singles released over the last 12 months. Other delicious surprises will be revealed in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more info.
Since starting up in Perth, Western Australia in 2006, Hidden Shoal has developed an enviable roster of genre-defying global and local recording artists. With 40+ acts from 10+ different countries, ranging from British ambient artist Antonymes through to American musical experimentalist Todd Tobias and beyond, the committed team at Hidden Shoal continues to play an integral role in promoting exciting new independent music.
Apologies as this is slightly old news but good news nonetheless! Hotel’s awesome track ‘Hydra’, taken off 2009’s Where Hearts Go Broke, recently featured in the MTV Network comedy Awkward. The track aired on Episode 2 to be exact which can be viewed in full here by US residents. The track is also a featured stream and download at MTV so if don’t already own this slice of pop genius then head there to grab it.
Head over to the excellent Scene Point Blank for a chance to win a bunch of very cool prizes including a signed copy of Hotel’s sublime On The Casino Floor. The competition will be drawn on the 1st of November and co-incides with a wonderful upcoming interview with Hotel’s Blake Madden. Check out all the info here.
Hotel’s awesome track ‘The Maudlin’ has been placed in this wonderful video about the amazing Bethany Hamilton for Rip Curl. Check out that surfing!
Ever-wonderful blog The Underground of Happiness, home to the musings of Conor, the presenter of the Cork radio show of the same name, has recently featured an article about our 5th birthday celebrations. Conor chats about some of his favourite HSR releases, provides links to recent interviews with Antonymes and Hotels from his show, and generally says nice things about us. Thanks Conor! We love you too!
Excerpt: “What the world need now is a band that spins round and round so fast that it can create sonic whirlwinds of such size that your ears cannot ignore them and should you need evidence that such bands exist then you should tune your ears to the sound of Seattle based band Hotels. Much as Morrissey could make something out of insignificance, Hotels make what could have been eighties synth rock revisited into something full of drama and just a bit different. In fact they have gone and done a concept album about a secret agent and his nemesis. Only “On The Casino Floor” isn’t an excuse for self indulgence for, whilst reverential to its influences from the days of drum machines and padded shoulders, this is an album with a sense of direction. The songs throw in the kind of noises that suggest an Atari video game was a source of inspiration but there is no doubt that the necessary support is there to hold up the substantial ennui in Blake Madden’s laconic vocals (never better illustrated than in the unrestrained disappointment of betrayal to be found in the words of “Sleep In Fame”). True, the songs do merge into one but that, surely, is the point. You don’t just pull a song out of an album like this and expect it to make sense and, yes, retro is indeed the new, smartly dressed, secret agent dressed in black. Groovy, baby!”
Excerpt: “With their third release Seattle quintet Hotels are once again casting trembling post-rock and surf guitar lines across a synth-driven new wave backdrop. It’ an effective fusion, in which sombre riffs cut through tinkling keys and synthesiser or, in the case of The Bat Watusi, work together in an entirely spooky union. Lead singer Blake Madden adds another dimension to the sci-fi-meets-new-wave air, conjuring the occasional Ian Curtis comparison – especially during his more sedate moments in openers From The West and Lonely Islands. The record’ most interesting juxtaposition comes with Trouble At The Consulate, which sees a borderline Bond Theme guitar line running through an upbeat, spacey re-imagining of Love Will Tear Us Apart. The ’80s influences are strong, but the retro-futuristic edge makes this less a rehash and more the soundtrack to an outer space surf documentary.”
Excerpt: “A concept album of sorts from the Seattle band with a madly ambitious premise, too good not to quote from the press blurb. The plot concerns a “secret agent, his former mentor and current arch-nemesis, and a nefarious prince’s plan to destroy Earth during the grand opening of the universe’s only outer space casino complex” (!). This would be good enough in itself but happily the musical chops match the scale of the ambition, with elements of surf-rock and post-punk, a dollop of film soundtracks, as well as a hint of decadent and very welcome lounge. You may already have had the great pleasure of hearing first single The bat watusi, a wonderful Dick Dale-style bassline strapped onto a louche vocal with ray-gun synths in pursuit. A shimmering suite of tunes overall, which eschew standard verse-chorus structures but still retain a firm grasp of pop dynamics (for example, the delirious crescendo of From the west, the glorious wall of sound of the title track, the John Barry-like uplift of Sleep in fame). And at the centre, Blake Madden’s sonorous croon. Highly recommended.”
Excerpt: “Two years after their well deserved critically acclaimed sophomore album Where Hearts Go Broke the Seattle-based sci-fi pop band Hotels releases their third album; On The Casino Floor. A seven track concept album that moves their cinematic sound close to fulfillment.
On The Casino Floor tells the story of a secret agent, his former mentor gone bad, and a devious prince’s plan to destroy the universe’s only space casino complex. Not surprisingly this gives a soundscape made out of spaghetti western images, and romantic Bond-like moves, added just a dash of Star Trek. A most charming combination…. Hotels have with On The Casino Floor delivered an almost epic musical storyline for a space movie that were never made. But, I sure would have been first in line to see it, just based on the magnificent soundtrack.”
Excerpt: “With its third album, On the Casino Floor, Seattle’s Hotels have fashioned a concept album set in an outer space gambling den that relates the story of a secret agent who is trying to save the universe from an evil galactic prince. If that sounds hokey, well, it is. However, the band’s sonic resonance is something else altogether. Imagine if the Smiths collided with OK Computer-era Radiohead on the set of a spaghetti western, and you’ll get an idea of the cinematic scope that Hotels is shooting for. On the Casino Floor is claustrophobic and spacious at the same time, and with five of the seven songs clocking in at above the five-minute mark, there is a certain grandeur to the set-up that pushes these tracks into interstellar hyper-drive. What’s more, the album captures all of the sleaziness, depravity, glitz and glitter of a night out in Sin City…. There are some astounding moments on On the Casino Floor and they tend to come at the beginning and end of the outing…. The best that can be said about On the Casino Floor is that it is an exactingly cohesive statement, even though the record’s James Bond in a spacesuit idea (wasn’t that already done in Moonraker?) might be a tad bit on the silly side.”
Excerpt: “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 ‘Julee 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… 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…. There’s a thin line between madness and genius. It’s a great place to be and Hotels are right there now, clinging on.”
Excerpt: “Hotels mainman Blake Madden is on record as describing this album as (deep breath) ‘ a spy epic set in a casino in outer space’… Ry Cooder with a Morrissey quiff and a set of effects pedals, the echoing, Bigsby twisted riffs that were such a notable part of previous Hotels album ‘Where Hearts Go Broke’ are placed less obviously centre stage but are all the more effective for that. And referential 80s glam pop styling aside, Hotels own songwriting is more than a match for their instrumentation, even when the band choose to indulge their Mancunian faculties with the brakes off, as Hotels do to some quite spectacular effect on second from last track ‘Trouble At The Consulate’ – although don’t write them off as mere rehashers of the Factory back catalogue, these sounds are only one part of the post punk jigsaw that Hotels present here, to their listeners, as finally complete. And Kylie doesn’t die at the end either; what’s not to like?“
Excerpt: “In an interview with yours truly for [sic] Magazine, Hotels’ frontman Blake Madden revealed the band’s next project would be a “a spy epic set in a casino in outer space”…. ‘On The Casino Floor’ is a sprawling and enigmatic work of art. No doubt about it, Hotels have come a long way since their brilliant but rather naive debut. Madden sounds jaded as soon as he opens his mouth for ‘From The West’ whilst ‘Lonely Islands’ is almost overcome with despair but its epic arrangement is rather beautiful. Unsurprisingly, the title track is similarly troubled by misery; evoking both spaghetti westerns and arty synth pop…. ‘On The Casino Floor’ makes one genuinely feel that you’ve experienced the rollercoaster of emotions from a gambling environment; where the line between success and failure is wafer thin and usually results in the latter. Yet at least the excitement, romance and style is there in abundance to make it all worthwhile. Overall, it’s a brave record and one which ultimately works as a concept and as a fine album.”
Excerpt: “On The Casino Floor is the newest album from the Seattle-based band Hotels, this release is a seven-song concept album that tells the story of a secret agent and his attempts to save the world from an evil galactic prince. Overall the album has a more refined sound than “Where Hearts Go Broke” their previous release, gone are the Devo tinged songs, and moody Joy Division tunes replaced here with moody dark atmospheric textures…. “The Bat Watusi” is a close to a dance song you’ll get here, it boasts a great mix of screeching guitar, driving bass and dreamy synth. This band has no problems blending surf and astral sounds together and they do it with ease lyrically telling the agent how to “meet contact over blackjack, then lay low with Halo, from here on out your solo”. This is followed up with a short instrumental “Smith Lands On The Casino Planet” which transitions into “Trouble At The Consulate” a song that sounds as though it is from a soundtrack to an imaginary Phillip K. Dick movie as they prepare to carry out their mission. The final cut “Sleep In Fame” closes the album and story line beautifully with the two former friends, now enemies in a face to face showdown “Hello again my friend, it seems the hour’s getting late here”. This record shows that the concept album is alive and works, the release showcases the growth of the band in both their sound as well as their songwriting/storytelling abilities.”
Excerpt: “Most times a band of any kind is made up of people who all basically want to play a certain kind of music. So many genres, they normally have similar influences and similar sounds which all form together to make a punk band, or an electro-pop band, or even a marching band for that matter. In the case of Hotels’ newest release, On the Casino Floor, that age-old formula doesn’t seem to apply. Hotels founder Blake Madden provides post-punk basslines and vocals that seem to have been influenced by The Strokes. Add surfy and psychy guitarlines with a new wave synth and what you’re left with is a very different kind of listening experience. What’s even more intriguing than that? It actually works. Pretty well, for that matter…. On the whole, the songwriting of On the Casino Floor is clever and original. The electro influence present in On the Casino Floor is like gas is to the automobile. Alone, On the Casino Floor looks nice and can be admired, but it’s the synth that really takes you places. My only real gripe is how short the album was. Only seven tracks (one of which is a minute long instrumental) left me wanting more. That being said, Seattle-based Hotels is proof that not all roads lead to Brooklyn.”
No videos yet, sorry!
Hotels music is available for licensing (master & sync cleared) through Hidden Shoal. Please contact us with some basic details about your project and the track(s) you wish to use and we’ll be sure to get back to you straight away.