Tell Me How You Feel
HOTH Brothers Band
“How are you feeling?” “What are you thinking?” “How is this affecting you?” “How can we get through this together?” This is some of the dialogue that begins early in HOTH’s new record.
In this current world of deep uncertainty we feel paralyzed and it is hard to press forward. It is good for the scared child in us to hear these questions. Pandemic raging, mad men undermining our democracy. The age of disinformation and algorithms distorting reality. It's enough to send you into your bunker.
Instead of disappearing, HOTH Brothers Band went into the studio and recorded a 17 song album. “Judith” the opening track, tells the story of an old painter in the mountain village of Truchas New Mexico. When she becomes ill her family wants to take her back to the city to care for her but she refuses. “Judith” pops out of the gate like a lost “Carter Family” hit. From here we have an excellent vantage point to begin the album. “Tell Me What You're Thinking” follows. This song’s great strength is in its humanity and tenderness defying fear and madness. “Cliff Fendler” is a beautiful native flower and the third song on the album. Rooted deeply in the mystical landscapes of Northern New Mexico this waltz confronts the listener with a fleeting paradise.
Next up, “Honeyguide” races through the forest trying to follow a little bird for a sweet reward. This exhilarating song arrives with perfect timing. We find ourselves at the put in with “Slickhorn”, transporting us to an idyllic and magical canyon on the San Juan River. The song moves likes the San Juan itself. Slow and greasy on the verses and choppy with white water on the bridge sections. From the San Juan we travel to ’Volendam”. It seems as though this song were plucked from the journals of a pining Wyoming Cowpoke roaming the dikes of Holland. The mood shifts with“Cherry Pits”, a simple blues recipe to keep the blood flowing where bitter and humorous perspectives from the dog house occur. From bitter to sweet “Trouble And Desire”enters. This gentle song is a three-way co-write about crushes that manifest, but don’t take off. Each writer sings their own verse the results are captivating. “Pappy’s Last Ride” is a mournful ballad that borrows biblical lines from the song, “Old Blue”. A mans first dog is like a child to him and it’s hard to let go. From dogs riding shotgun and playing fetch with Jesus we come to the desperate woes of a person who cannot free their lover from jail. Behold “Passage”, a song that takes place in the netherworlds of the soul. Sometimes inmates don't want to leave their hell. It blossoms in the dark like a song from the 60s folk revival.
We arrive at the Saints and Sinners liquor store in “Boogieman Mesa” buying a nip bottle of “Fireball”. The ugly duckling of the record “Boogie Man”, investigates the curse of the oldest town in America.
Finally we can sing along to the unique acappella song, “One Hard Rain”, which compares the Covid virus to Santa Claus and tells the human race that it may deserve to be knocked down and humbled for the sake of the world. It’s an easy transition to be perched on “Poor Man’s Light” yet another biblical portrait of human struggle and suffering. It's dustbowl vibe unleashes a universal empathy for all victims of any misfortune anywhere. Sarah Ferrell proves her vocal powers in “Wilding Of Robby” a ballad sung with exceptional grace. Inside the telling of Robby’s earlier years we find a startling surprise called, “Daddy Shot The Devil.” The band sounds extremely tight here and the drums are exquisite.
Harkening back to the epic story of “Wild Robby” “Sam Hill” has an old-time pioneer feel. In this river-song you can almost hear the boys shouting in the deep canyons of the Gates of Ladore. Big Bend or Bust? “Dyin’ For Diane” was written in the same spirit as an old dust devil Texas waltz. This song has an interesting twist when the love for Diane is not returned. The bullet proof verses of “Rough Ragged Edge” close the album with a grand perspective like the high village of Truchas in “Judith”. It was written by the great New Mexican songwriter Lewie Wickham. Lewie’s story captures the old spirit of New Mexico in a way no one else can.
In HOTH’s second record “Tell Me How You Feel” things get a little tighter and the voices seem a little louder. The songs stand on their own but are somehow cosmically linked within this new release.
Rivers, oasis canyons, locusts, plagues, lush springs and words of hope when there is pain and despair , birds withholding information, bulletproof snow, lesbians with jackhammers, dogs sprouting wings, self serve prisons and high road painters. It's all there for you folks. Climb out of your bunker and hit play.