COVEREXACTYX;1424721884370527;HopAlong1424721884370527.jpg;220;2201. The Knock/2. Buddy In The Parade/3. Horseshoe Crabs/4. Waitress/5. Happy To See Me/6. Texas Funeral/7. Powerful Man/8. I Saw My Twin/9. Well-Dressed/10. Sister Cities

Release Date: May 4 2015, Saddle Creek Records

Painted Shut’ the third studio album by Hop Along a.k.a Frances Quinlan (vocals), Mark Quinlan (drums), Tyler Long (bass) and Joe Reinhart ( guitar) is the first album of the band that is released by Saddle Creek Records. In addition the album was recorded and mixed by John Agnello who has worked with Kurt Vile, Dinosaur Jr, Cymbals Eat Guitars and Sonic Youth among others.’The Knock’ begins without any introductions or a gradual build up of an atmosphere. The band requires us to be prepared for their music as prepared is the audience of a gig for the next song of the band that is on stage. Music with harsh guitars, lyrics that express desperation, anger and determination and an atmosphere dominated by numerous vocal changes. This album couldn’t be further away stylistically, from the previous one ‘Get Disowned’. So, as the title suggests, do ‘hop along’ and let yourselves be carried away by the ideas the music of the 10 songs in this album.


If you liked Sheryl Crow and Natalie Imbruglia, especially their work at the end of the 90s, then expect to find the voice of Frances Quinlan very appealing as her warm vocal tone and her performing style seem to echo these two singers/songwriters. The music of Hop Along in this album has less melodies compared to their first two albums and less experimentation with the different instruments. ‘Painted Shut’ seems to evolve the style of the older songs ‘No Good Al Joad’, ‘Young And Happy’ and ‘Get Disowned’. Forget the country folk ballads and the contemplating melodies, this album draws inspiration from punk aesthetic which is blended with the immediacy of country folk songs. This whole album gave me the impression of participating in a one off impromptu concert in a small independent venue or even a house. Elements such as the continuous vibrating noise at the end of ‘Powerful Man’ for example resemble moments in between songs during a live gig!

The details and the interesting moments in this album

There were moments (i.e. ‘Buddy In the Parade’, ‘Happy To See Me’, ‘Powerful Man’) where the band seemed to rely too much on the voice and natural hoarseness of Frances Quinlan so the music at the background had no melody and consisted of very simple and brief riffs. Throughout the rest of the album it seemed that the intention was to create a noisy background so that the vocal alterations would be the central focal point and the only source of melody. If the music of this album represents feelings then I would say that each song is an expression of the mind process that starts with reflection, continues with agony and results in an outburst. Even though the lyrics and the performing style are not as ‘confrontational’ as a typical punk song, the atmosphere of ‘Painted Shut’ is definitely grunge punk. I liked the rhythm of ‘Horseshoe Crabs’ and together with ‘Waitress’ and ‘Well-Dressed’ they were my favourite songs from this album in terms of melodies, rhythms and vocal styles. I found the pauses in the melodies particularly interesting in all three songs because they felt like additional ‘breaths’ and the voice of Frances suddenly resembled a harmonica especially toward the end of ‘Horseshoe Crabs’!’Texas Funeral’ is a song that starts with very dynamic rhythms at the background and continues likewise with one of the lengthiest solos in the album. At times the song brought to my mind Cranberries and I liked the rock feel of this solo (1.48- 2.33) and the brief melodies with which this song begins and ends. In ‘Texas Funeral‘ as in ‘Buddy In The Parade‘  there are backing vocals and this is an interesting addition even though I preferred the more theatrical way additional vocals were treated in ‘Get Disowned’. Compared to the rest of the album the four songs mentioned above, reveal the strong elements in the music of Hop Along, namely the combination of grunge punk with the immediacy of country folk all linked together with simple but interesting melodies.

In ‘Buddy In The Parade’ (0.27-0.43) and ‘Powerful Man’ (1.26-1.40) within the electric and ‘harsh’ sound the band made space for the drums to come at the foreground not with harshness but with playfulness and this created an additional point of interest.

I couldn’t help but notice the awkward ending of ‘I Saw My Twin’ with a fade out, but the album comes to a very powerful end after this song with ‘Well Dressed’ and ‘Sister Cities’.

…I call you enemy
because I’m afraid
of what you could call me
The world’s gotten so small

and embarrassing… ‘ (lyrics from the song ‘Waitress’)

The music and the emotional strength of the vocals in this album made me think that it is important to see Hop Along perform their songs live as the musicians’ body language and stage appearance would complement and ‘materialize’ the meaning of the lyrics and the emotions. In the album there are often references to the lives of two legendary musicians, Buddy Bolden (an African American cornetist and a key musical figure in the development of the sound of New Orleans which later became known as Jazz) and Jackson C.Frank (an American folk musician) who both suffered from mental illnesses and died penniless. The lyrics often express the agony that accompanies poverty, abuse, greed and result in banal, sub-par behaviour. It is the ability of Frances Quinlan to express the emotional complexity associated with an uncompromising mind that stays with us after we hear the last note of this album.

Hop Along have the potential to develop more their sound and we will definitely keep an eye on their next releases along with their tour dates which so far don’t include appearances outside America.


  Blaue Rosen box

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