Christmas may be over, but independent band Gentlemen Hall hopes to deck the halls with some shiny certification plaques with their newest release, a song I hope can be their first major hit in 2013.
The sextet originally formed in Beantown in 2008, performing on the club circuit until a chance meeting with two area DJs at a house party led to some airplay on the now-defunct Alternative station WFNX. The band went onto win a Breakout Artist Award for the Boston region at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009. I guess you could say that they neatly fit into the MGMT/Passion Pit category of psychedelic-leaning rock fare, but they have a poppier side to them reminiscent of Foster The People or OneRepublic that sets them apart and gives them an advantage when it comes to commercial potential.
I first heard of them two years after that when the band released their first single to radio, a song called “Gravity Will Break Our Bones”. It bubbled under my top 40 for nine weeks in the fall of 2011. It did, however, accumulate some minor airplay at Hot Adult Contemporary and made the top 50, but dropped off shortly afterward. Followup release “All Our Love” gained even less attention, picking up just a handful of stations, and again, bubbled under my chart for seven weeks in the early summer of 2012. I actually heard that latter release a few times on the station before its demise in July.
It’s now 2013 and the band is releasing their third single overall to radio, another self-released tune called “Sail Into The Sun”. It’s from a forthcoming full-length studio album, no title yet, which should be out in the spring or summer. It was recently sent to Alternative radio, but by the sound of it, they’ll be crossing over with the song eventually. “Sail” just sounds like the perfect song to use in an advertisement. Oh, wait. Cue the video. It’s a good start so far. (Yes, I know that “Gravity” was in an online video for the Windows Phone, but you’re probably looking at this on your iPhone, so shall we move on?) It’s not too deep lyrically, not that it’s a bad thing with this kind of song, but it’s taken from what I think is the perspective of a boy dreaming about his significant other, wanting to break free from the normality of life, the sun and the rain, etc. He sings, “I’ll pull you closer when we’re floating far away / And I / Don’t need no reason, we’ll just get away / When we sail into the sun.” As he goes on, he questions the landscape of this fantasy world and whether it will complete his curiosity of the unknown out there: “Will we ever leave? Will we find that all we saw we really need?” before stating that he just wants go “home” or whatever he calls the place he finds comfort with his lover. Again, this isn’t the most essential part of the song, but, at least it’s not a self-righteous monologue about money, women and cars, you know?
This is such a glorious song sonically. It’s one of those songs that makes you feel good because the arrangement is so thoughtfully done, a beautiful combination of a lot of different elements. It’s a mix of (and correct me if I’m wrong) drum, guitar, keyboard/synthesizer, tambourine, and a triangle/xylophone. That’s quite a bunch, but it all flows together into one seamless effort. I did say the lyrics portrayed the protagonist in a dream-like state, and the lushness of the instruments enhances that quality. Unlike their other singles, this one doesn’t have a standard lead vocal, and there’s a lot of background harmonizing during the verse. Again, it’s just very pretty. Also, it ends with hand claps. Seriously, it sounds like “Car Wash” suddenly invaded the track, but I can dig it. It’s such a cool song that you just have to listen to it a few times and you’ll get it.
The only thing standing in the band’s way of getting a big hit is the whole lack of a major label promoting them. They’re an independent act. Now, I understand the whole notion of some bands not liking the process of that, but I think they would really benefit from it if someone good took them under their wing. They are that good. The world just needs to hear them now. Here’s to some smooth sailing from this just-west-of-Bostonian in this new year.