Porterville, California ambient experimental post-rock and spoken-word band Hotel Books have signed with Ohio independent label InVogue Records. As a new addition to the label's roster, a double EP by Hotel Books, titled I Am Almost Happy Here But I Never Feel At Home, will be released on July 1st. Later this summer the band is scheduled to enter the studio to record its debut full-length album, which I am fairly sure is yet to be titled.
Fronted by vocalist and poet Cam Smith, Hotel Books evolved from Cam with a changing lineup of musicians to the four-piece outfit it is today. As I understand it, Hotel Books was just a duo for some time. But having listened to a few of their newer songs as well as their older material, the full band sound better complements Cam's intelligent and emotive streams of spoken word as musical vehicles to carry them forward into well-composed builds and breaks. In fact, I haven't come across spoken-word and music combinations this impressive since listening to certain songs by MewithoutYou, The Hold Steady, and imadethismistake. Actually, I can take that one step further by saying it is probably my favorite poetry and music project since Jack Kerouac and Steve Allen's Poetry for the Beat Generation, William S. Burroughs and Kurt Cobain did The Priest They Called Him, and Kailani Amerson joined The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower for the opening track, "Exhibitionism," on the album Dissertation, Honey (2003).
While Hotel Books' music is strong and well executed, it is the vocals that keep the listener absorbed. Cam's words, as much as they way they are delivered, are the undeniably the main focus. There are a lot of topics covered in these songs - the examining of one's soul, a figurative dissection of the heart, the imparting of important experiences and observations, describing significant relationships, among other things - but none more so than love. It is artistic expression at its finest.
The video attached to this write-up is for the song "Cult Leader," which is on the B Side of Hotel Books' upcoming double EP on InVogue Records.