Expensive Vomit in a Cheap Hotel
Label: Science of Sound
By: Will Butler
One of the toughest tasks of being a music reviewer is attempting to assign some albums a certain genre when they instead seem to defy classification. Sleeping in the Aviary’s “Expensive Vomit in a Cheap Hotel” is that type of record; its songs range from poppy indie rock to alt-country, from slightly Dylan-esque ballads to Nirvana-style grunge with a little bit of acoustic punk thrown in for good measure. The only term that can be universally applied to describe the album is lo-fi due to the raw, unpolished sound displayed throughout. Thankfully, SITA is able to blend these styles together to make a solid but not earth-shattering album.
Band members of SITA have a lot to get off of their chest in “Expensive Vomit,” and it is conveyed rather clearly in the lyrics. It’s not emo, but the band is definitely ticked off and they’re going to let you know so at the outset. Vocalist Elliott Kozel’s efforts can be hit or miss, but it’s clear that the album would be nothing without him. His inconsistency can occasionally be maddening; you have songs like “Everybody’s Different, Everybody Dies” where he consistently explores his upper vocal range with smashing success. However, you also have songs “Gas Mask Blues,” an otherwise fantastic Nirvana-esque grunge fest where Kozel struggles to tread the fine line between sounding acceptably out of tune in a lo-fi setting and sounding just plain bad. It should also be worth noting that Kozel should not attempt to scream during his songs in the future, he just doesn’t have the voice to pull it off.
The musicianship in “Expensive Vomit” is much more consistent, thankfully. Their songs aren’t going to make Joe Satriani’s eyes pop out of his head, but the band does play their material with confidence and competence. The relative simplicity in the songwriting is a good formula for SITA, as the band has something to say and the message is exemplified, not muddled by those playing instruments. Granted, there are some filler songs that keep this album from being outstanding, but the successful songs on this album are a combination of heartrending ranting and a rollicking, raw sound that makes for a very fun listen.
Recommended songs: “Write On,” “Calm Me Down,” “I’m Old,” “Everybody’s Different, Everybody Dies,” “Windshield”