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Hospital Ships

Oh, Ramona

(Graveface; US: 21 Oct 2008; UK: Available as import)

On Oh, Ramona, Jordan Geiger’s outfit, Hospital Ships, marry gentle folk melodies with an acidic indie rock fuzz. The bracing opener “Bitter Radio Single” is exactly what it claims to be. It draws you in with lilting guitar and hushed vocals before busting out into an angsty call to arms. “Baby for J” uses bouncy pop on its verses and a light, spacey drone on its choruses to make the best, most fleshed out track on the album. There are a handful of other highlights over the record, from the bittersweet cover of the Minus Story’s “Girls” to the fragilely orchestrated “Sink Your Teeth into Me”.


The album talks often of drinking and loss, and ends up overstating its troubles and feeling a little melodramatic at times. These drinking songs aren’t about men spending their last dollar at the bar ‘cause there was no work on the docks this morning. These are songs for the student blowing the last of his loan check on shots. His girlfriend may have left him, but he’s got another check coming when the semester starts. But still, when Geiger doesn’t overplay his hand, his songs can be affecting. Because, whether you got cash or not, losing someone, or just feeling lost, hurts. He taps into that feeling well enough on Oh, Ramona that you might find yourself wishing some of these brief tracks were fleshed out a little more, given room to really pine.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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