BY DANNY R. PHILLIPS
Bands that site Elliott Smith, Gram Parsons or Townes Van Zandt as influences are popping up everywhere these days, multiplying faster than crabs in a $2 whorehouse. Hospital Ships is no exception.
What began as a bedroom music endeavor for Jordan Geiger has finally grown to a full band, albeit with very mixed results. While his band is a good one, with all the added instruments used to fill out the broader scope of the songs and darker themes explored, Destruction in Yr Soul should have been a brilliantly boundary pushing record, instead picks up where Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band left off. Point being, when I first spun this record, it felt as though I had spun it a thousand times before. Familiar vocal delivery, familiar lyrical avenues, familiar music, familiar tones. Destruction is just all too familiar.
Destruction is an album of extremes, galloping from garage rock jams, to attempted psychedelia to the obligatory folk songs about love, self-doubt and confusion. “If It Speaks,” a song about loving someone and waiting for the sweet relief of death, borrows as much from Sonic Youth’s trademark wave of distortion as it does Built to Spill’s Doug Martsch’s lyrical and vocal approach. “Joan of Arc” with its contemplation of God and our job in life, is a song that builds momentum as perfectly as those first fuzzed out, trippy moments of an acid party before a friend starts talking about boring heavy shit, turning what could have been a good time into a nightmare.
The track “Lost Folk Song” is the perfect example of where, in my opinion, Geiger should have focused. Beautifully done, it is quiet, peaceful, and solitary. It is the perfect song to cleanse your head of the distortion and fuzz that preceded it in the offerings before. Minimal and calm, it is what Geiger does best. Perhaps he should close the window on attempted rocking out, put away the distortion pedals, turn down the amps and head back to the bedroom. In isolation, he finds beautiful music; with a band, he discovered confusion, pretentiousness and ultimately an average record. I can’t blame Geiger for wanting to branch out and try new things as a musician; it’s just that sometimes it doesn’t work out.
DOWNLOAD: “Lost Folk Song”