English Edition

I hope that it got into you

This is a sto­ry about a song.

In 2001, one year after my favou­ri­te band Ben Folds Five had dis­ban­ded, I found the final three new songs they had ever pre­sen­ted live on the Inter­net: „The Secret Life Of Mor­gan Davis“, a swin­ging pop-tune, reap­peared as a b‑side to Folds‘ first solo sin­gle „Rockin‘ The Sub­urbs“ later that year. „Prin­ce Char­ming“, writ­ten and sung by bass-play­er Robert Sledge, was included on the first (and only) EP his fol­low-up-band Inter­na­tio­nal Oran­ge released in 2004. The third one which I had always lik­ed the most, stay­ed miss­ing: „Ame­lia Bright“, writ­ten by Dar­ren Jes­see who had been the drum­mer of Ben Folds Five (the ama­zing bal­lad „Magic“ on the band’s final record was also his tune).

Darren Jessee (photo by Debora Francis)In 2004 I found out the­re was Hotel Lights, Darren’s new band whe­re he now wri­tes the songs, plays the gui­tar and the pia­no and sings. I lis­ten­ed to a few of their songs that were available online and wro­te an email to Dar­ren. I wro­te him that I loved the music of Hotel Lights, but asked him what had hap­pen­ed to „Ame­lia Bright“. Dar­ren repli­ed that a lot of peo­p­le had asked him that ques­ti­on and we stay­ed in touch. He sent me a copy of Hotel Lights‘ self-titled debut album, CT das radio, the col­lege radio sta­ti­on I was working for back then in Bochum, Ger­ma­ny pro­ba­b­ly beca­me the first Euro­pean radio sta­ti­on to ever play the band and when­ever I met someone who was working for the music indus­try I told him about Hotel Lights (I’ve only done this twice, the other band being Kili­ans who had more luck in achie­ving a record deal in Ger­ma­ny.) In 2006, Hotel Lights released an EP cal­led „Good­night­good­mor­ning“ which came up with beau­tiful folk-based pop songs once more. You might have lis­ten­ed to their song „A.M. Slow Gol­den Hit“ on „Grey’s Ana­to­my“ wit­hout kno­wing it.

A few weeks ago I lear­ned that Hotel Lights would release a new album cal­led „Fire­cra­cker Peo­p­le“ – and on their MySpace site I stumb­led across their ver­si­on of „Ame­lia Bright“ at last. I don’t know whe­ther it’s becau­se I had alre­a­dy loved the song for seven years, but it’s beau­ty lite­ral­ly struck me. It was even bet­ter than the ver­si­on Ben Folds Five had done – pro­ba­b­ly becau­se this time the sin­ger was the man who had writ­ten the song: Dar­ren Jes­see.

Even though „Ame­lia Bright“ sticks out of „Fire­cra­cker Peo­p­le“ (and was used as a trig­ger for this artic­le by me so ine­le­gant­ly), the other songs are by no means worse. The music of Hotel Lights reminds me of artists like Ron Sexs­mith, Josh Rou­se and Spark­le­hor­se (Alan Wea­ther­head of Spark­le­hor­se co-pro­du­ced the record and play­ed the gui­tar). It sounds autum­nal­ly, melan­cho­lic and peaceful to me and I ima­gi­ne dri­ving through small Ame­ri­can towns and into deser­ted land­scapes – images Dar­ren Jes­see says he’s okay with.

HOTEL LIGHTS „Blue Always Finds Me“ from Fire­cra­cker Peo­p­le on Vimeo.

Click here to read a full-length inter­view with Dar­ren Jes­see of Hotel Lights.

Hotel Lights - Firecracker People (Album cover)
Hotel Lights – Fire­cra­cker Peo­p­le

Release date: August 19, 2008
Label: Bar/​None