A Review of Hopes/Dreams, the debut album from Demise of Hollywood
by: Zach Norris
Demise of Hollywood has been a band for almost 5 years. They’ve lost/changed lead singers more times than your favorite football team has lost/changed quarterbacks, but here they are with their self made, debut album Hopes/Dreams. Although this is their first official release the guys are no rookies when it comes to making music. Their experience shows and shines when it comes to the writing, execution, and production. But with the constant hole left by a singer the band has changed, shifted, rearranged, and mixed up their lineup, and you can hear it in the vocals. For a debut album Hopes/Dreams exceeds expectations, while leaving a bit of room for improvement.
The album starts off with a simple, but catchy as all hell intro that takes it’s name from the album title. The intro lets you know where the rest of the album is heading with chanting gang vocals, “These are my hopes and dreams, turning into reality. These are my hopes and dreams, I’ll show all those who doubted me.” And from there the boys take you on a pop/punk journey that’s familiar, yet unlike most you’ve heard. DOH knows how to write great pop/punk music, but they have a different approach vocally that sets them apart from your favorite band. Jesse, lead vocalist, doesn’t sing. He doesn’t croon. He doesn’t serenade. He attacks. His vocals are more Comeback Kid than The Wonder Years. He’s one corner of the triangle that is DOH’s vocals. The other two are formed by singer Paul, the true singing-guitar player type, and Steven, who releases his inner Bruso with backup screams. The three play off each other in various structures and templates creating a style used more often in melodic hardcore than pop/punk, which gives them a unique advantage.
Once you get used to their one of a kind singing setup Demise produces a solid debut. The lyrics, written mostly by Jesse but also penned by Paul and Steven at times, cover various topics. From being bored with life at home, wanting to be out on the road, being stabbed in the back by friends, to dealing with lost love, and the hangups of band life, the guys touch on everything. Most times the lyrics are handled in a positive vengeance kind of way. The album is deifnitely a triumph over those who casted doubt in the guys’ direction. The various subjects are handled with a broad view, but one track that does get personal is Matthew’s Song. Written by Paul for his brother, the song is aggressively somber and slower than the rest of the album. Paul takes control vocally and makes sure to leave his heart in your headphones with lines like “My heart broke within my chest”. Aside from that, the tracks are fun but meaningful, catchy with character, yet strong and serious when they need to be. Musically, the record is written mostly by Paul and Steve and this is where the guys really excel. These guys make you move. They’re tired of complacency, and being stuck and that caged energy pulses out of every track. I challenge any fan of pop/punk (or any guitar driven genre) to sit still listening to this album. 12 Rounds, Strikeout, True Life, Trinity, and Go Big or Go Home are standout examples of the quality of music DOH can present.
They’re different, they’re unique, they’re good, and they’re still learning. The music will continue to get better and the lyrics, although not bad at all, will improve once the guys master their style. Demise of Hollywood is the triangle offense of pop/punk, they just need to find their inner Phil Jackson and put it all together. After 5 years of getting things together Hopes/Dreams is a solid start, I recommend it for any fan of legit pop/punk. Now that we know what they’ve got, and they know what they’ve got, we can only wait and watch the guys rise.
You’ll like Demise of Hollywood if you like:
A Day To Remember
Set Your Goals
Four Year Strong
*I wanted to do something cool for my 200th post, but was unintentionally robbed of the chance by RainbowRios, and my lack of attention paid to my post count.
From Sunday through Tuesday I was in San Diego with my friends Jesse Garza, Steven Jimenez, Paul Robles, and Christopher Noble. These four gentlemen make up 4/5 of the pop/punk band Demise Of Hollywood. They have been taking short trips to SD to record their upcoming full length debut album (which I know the title of but don’t know if it’s ok to release so I won’t be including said title).
Sunday was a short trip. I drove. Steven played music form his iPod. Chris and Paul played music to themselves from their phones. Jesse slept. We arrived in SD/Chula Vista where I was introduced to Chris, the producer/recorder/mixer of the album. Chris is a cool dude. He’s chill, funny, and insanely talented when it comes to music. No time was wasted as we entered the studio. We got in, laid down our belongings. and went to work recording bass. Not all of us. Chris, Chris, Paul, and Steven would be responsible for that. Jesse and I chatted while the dudes handled business. After bass was Steven’s vocals. Steve does the screaming vocals on the album, although screaming wouldn’t properly describe what was happening in the booth. Bury Your Dead fans would be excited to know that I dubbed Steve “Baby Bruso, based on his vocal range and skill. Everyone was sold on these skills as well, and recording the parts went by smoothly and fairly quickly. Afterwards we went to dinner at a local Mexican restaraunt, and then headed back to the studio for some sleep.
Monday was just as fun. We woke up and had breakfast at a mom and pop joint called Aunt Emma’s. This apparently is the guys’ eatery of choice when recording because it had quite a reputation. I wasn’t disappointed. An omelet and pancakes for $3.99? Who can beat that? Nobody I can think of. So after breakfast we were back in the studio and it was my turn. Yes. My turn. Part of the reason I was invited on the trip was to record my rap part in one of the songs. The other part was probably a combo of my good looks, sense of humor, and musical input, but I’m just guessing. Anyways, my part consists of a 12 bar rap (I believe, I’m not 100% on that cause I never counted and have also never rapped on a pop/punk song). Maybe with the guys’ permission I’ll post the song with lyrics later on. After me, Paul was up. Paul is the singer of the band. Not really the “lead” singer, if such a term exists in this band, but he does the only actual singing. Paul is good. He makes me jealous. Paul and I connect on the nerd, anime-lover front so it’s always cool hanging with him. His writing, and vocals are good and getting better (as is the band as a whole for that matter). But after Paul’s part was recorded we moved on to Jesse’s main vocals. For those who don’t know, Jesse has more of a Comeback Kid, Set Your Goals style of yelling rather than singing. Well the unfortunate part of this weekend was that Jesse’s voice was messed up from jump, and he was nursing his voice throughout almost the whole trip. Well he did some of his vocals Moday night, and did them well aside from a little stuffiness. After Jess got through about three songs Chris (recording Chris) had to go to a rehearsal so we hit SD for some chill time. Window shopping at the mall, Red Robin (yumm), and the beach were guilty of killing our time and then it was back to the studio. JEsse gave his parts another shot but in the end we decided his voice needed some more R and R and crashed out for the night.
Tuesday came and it was back to Aunt Emma’s. This time was a little more interesting due to the fact that a waitress practically demanded my phone number. I was flattered, but some prodding from Paul and the fact that I have a girlfriend brought me to the conclusion that it wasn’t my number she needed. So I gave her Chris’. After breakfast it was back in the studio for the last leg of our trip. On the agenda, gang vocals. We recruited Josh Griffin of Beg For Life, and Paul’s friend Brandon, and two of Chris’ roommates aided us as well. We yelled together and made gang vocal magic. It was fun but everyone’s voices were pretty much done after all the yelling. And that was that for recording. We packed our things, said our goodbyes, and travelled to the most enjoyable place in San Diego. Chik-Fil-A. After a satisfying lunch we were back on the road heading home.
The trip was so much fun. I haven’t been involved in recording music since my days with Cerebral Arts, and I’ve never been involved with recording anything with real instruments. I learned a lot, I laughed a lot, I lived and loved it. The Demise guys are some of my best friends, and I wish them the best with this new album and upcoming tour. I’m way stoked and even more grateful to be a part of the album. It’s a blessing, and a privilege.
“Don’t lose hope!”
Sorry I was gone a while,