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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 3, 2006

My view: 'Elevator' by Hot Hot Heat

By Jeremy Castillo
Special to the Advertiser

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5 Outstanding: Add it to your collection now. A must-have.

4 Great: Buy it or rent it definitely listen to it.

3 Good: Worth listening to despite some flaws.

2 Fair: Unless you're a fan of the group or singer, don't bother.

1 Poor: Save your money (and your ears).

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CD: "Elevator" by Hot Hot Heat; Sire Records

Release: April 2005

Style: Jazz

Rewind: "You Owe Me an IOU," "Running Out of Time," "Goodnight Goodnight"

My take: Sometimes the discovery of new music is pure serendipity. I discovered Hot Hot Heat's full-length CD, "Make Up the Breakdown," at Wherehouse Music's closeout sale before the franchise left Hawai'i. It was one of the few items left on the shelves and with the few dollars remaining on my gift certificate, I bought it.

Upon first listen, the album sucked me in. Full of clever lyrics and hyper instrumentals, it had the infectious noisiness lots of other bands would most likely kill to have. The album never spawned a hit but it had all the ingredients to make one; it oozed the potential to become a smash hit, as did the band overall. They just needed a spark to explode onto the scene.

Fortunately, that spark came in the form of "Goodnight Goodnight," the single from the group's latest album, "Elevator." The song received high rotation on radio across the country.

The rest of the album is very different from previous Hot Hot Heat material. The writing focuses more on depth and emotion than it does conciseness and witty wordplay, which became a signature in the band's previous releases. Also, the instruments aren't as bouncy and energetic as they used to be. While it is still filled with hooks and poppy riffs, "Elevator's" music lacks that spike and confidence.

However, this doesn't mean the band has completely forgotten its roots. Songs such as the opener "Running out of Time" and "You Owe Me an IOU," easily the best song on the album, are filled with the same characteristics that made Hot Hot Heat's sound great.

Songs in which the band starts to deviate from its original sound are "Jingle Jangle" and "Middle of Nowhere" that almost sound like ballads with slower guitars and more relaxed vocal work. Also, these songs are near the 4-minute mark, which is near-epic length by Hot Hot Heat standards.

With 15 tracks in a brisk 38 minutes, "Elevator" is a quick, fun listen, although a slight disappointment to older Hot Hot Heat fans. This doesn't mean it's not a great album, because it is.

Jeremy Castillo is a student at Windward Community College and editor of the college's newspaper, Ka 'Ohana.