Last of The Famous International Beach Boys: Hostage Calm, an Upcoming Talent
An artist’s strongest and most influential craft stems from his/her ability to write effectively and persuasively; as the old proverb says, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Hostage Calm, an upcoming talent from Wallingford, Connecticut, definitely embodies this quote as they layer their progressive, unique songs with messages that combat pressing issues such as marriage inequality. Regardless of whether or not you’ve heard of this band, stay tuned because their next album could quite possibly catapult them into the spotlight. I’m sure by now you’re probably asking, “okay, well what genre is this band?” I’d love to answer this question but as you will find out through reading the remainder of this article, it’s hard to put this band in a particular category, so I will leave you with their description from their Facebook page: “60’s pop melody, 70’s punk energy and 80’s new wave panache.”
Since the release of their debut full-length in 2008 entitled Lens, Hostage Calm's sound has developed and matured quite drastically. Throughout Lens, their songs are reminiscent of the scene they thrived on while growing up: punk. A majority of the songs on the album consist of both hard hitting guitar and drums accompanied by fast-paced rhythms. Although everyone appreciates a quality punk sound, these elements tend to dominate and draw attention from the vocals, which at this point in Chris Martin’s career were definitely still developing. Two years later with the release of their sophomore self-titled album, their sound had already begun to develop. Although Lens is energetic and provided a foundation for Hostage Calm to grow, it didn’t quite utilize all the talent harnessed by the musicians.
Throughout their 2010 self-titled album, the punk persona that previously defined Hostage Calm's sound seemed to wane as the band adopted a much more popish sound. As CMar continued to develop as a singer and musician, the band started to highlight his vocals and layer their songs with harmonies supplied by fellow band members Tim Casey (bass) and Nick Balzano (guitar). The heavy guitar parts and bass parts were replaced by melodic and textured rhythms that provided more depth for the band’s sound. Meanwhile, the drum parts not only became more intricate but also experimental as seen on “Ballots/Stones,” during which Hostage Calm embeds various auxiliary percussion parts into the song. As their sound continued to become more distinctive and unique, the band picked up a vibe that can only be compared to the Beach Boys. Moreover, this odd, yet enjoyable attribute of Hostage Calm’s sound can be heard in their single “The “M” Word.”
Finally, with the release of their latest album Please Remain Calm, it’s obvious how much talent this band truly has. At his point in Hostage Calm’s development, they have definitely directed their focus toward the pop-punk sound opposed to the punk sound that was indicative of their earlier releases. CMar’s vocals on this album are definitely at their apex and are highlighted accordingly. Moreover, Tim Casey’s contributions to the vocal tracks are more prominent in this album and also tend to compliment Martin’s voice quite well. This phenomenal growth can be noted in “Patriot” and the “The “M” Word”. Aside from the vocal growth the band has experienced, this album demonstrates their flexibility and curiosity as musicians. On this album, the band experiments with various instrumentation as they implement an orchestral sound on “Patriot” and “The M Word”. Additionally, John Ross, the drummer, does an excellent job of providing a fresh, intriguing percussion part on this album while guitarists Nick Balzano and Tom Chiari provide excellent guitar tracks to support Martin’s vocals.
As previously mentioned, another distinguishing factor of Hostage Calm proves to be their ability to write with purpose. In a majority, if not all, of Hostage Calm's songs, they aren't just singing to sing or playing to play - everything has a reason. For example, in their song “Ballots/Stones”, lead singer Chris Martin, despite his hulk-like physique, touches on the sensitive yet controversial subject of gay marriage as he sings " Did you cast a ballot or a stone?/Did it cast a shadow on their home?”. Although at first glance this appears to have no connection to marriage equality, upon further research you will find out this line was taken from signs that could be viewed throughout California on signs of those who were protesting California’s Proposition 8 which was a bill preventing same-sex marriage. Although their steadfast allegiance to equality incites protests at their shows and controversy among fans that sport their t-shirt that says “I SUPPORT SAME SEX MARRIAGE”, this band has no problem standing up for what they believe which is nothing short of respectable.
Overall, Hostage Calm possess a very unique sound that continues to develop as they continue to expand their fan base and rise in popularity. The first time I saw this band perform it was in what can only be described as a basement. Although I was 50 pounds heavier and there was little room to move, it was an amazing show, probably one of my favorites. During the end of Hostage Calm’s set, the whole crowd stormed the stage, broke most of the equipment, and shared the spotlight for the encore. I remember shouting the lyrics to the songs while being simply mesmerized by John Ross’s ability to simply tear it up on the set. I would suggest to listen to this bands works and if you have the chance, see them live. This band shares a devotion for music and it shows when they perform. If you don’t believe me, look at this picture.