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Hotel Lights Review

by Rob Nipe

The following was taken from a letter never sent…

Dear Darren,

How are you? I am fine. I've been settling into our new house up in Connecticut but we've been missing the Triangle. Sometimes, you just want a little bit of that Carolina blue. Mostly in the winter. Ha ha!

Seriously though, I am writing you because I owe you a big apology. When I heard that you were doing a solo album, I was excited and part of that excitement was because I'm such a big Ben Folds Five fan. I mean you were a huge integral part of the success of that band. I mean you wrote "Song for the Dumped" and "Magic" two of my favorite songs. Should I just forget that? Am I dwelling in the past? Why can't I let sleeping dogs lie?

Hotel Lights isn't Ben Folds Five. I have another sheet of paper that I've been practicing this sentence. I'm up to 758 and still climbing. It isn't a hard concept, just one that I think needs repeating. Everything I've read about the album mentions at least twice that you were in Ben Folds Five and that you wrote a couple of songs. It is almost like the reviewers have to confirm for themselves that you were in the band. Like their breaking some big story. Hello, we all can use Google, right? I know, it is soooo weak. Seriously, a real friend like me should just move past it. And I will, bro, I will.

Not that it is that hard to do that. Hotel Lights doesn't really draw comparisons to that…other band. Totally another beast all together. You sound like a less nasal Thom Yorke in an electronic version Uncle Tupelo. It is awesome. "Stumblin' Home Winter Blues" showcasing the solitary, drunken walk home, wrapped tightly to stay warm but cutting out the rest of the world tightly. "You Come and I Go" was a great pick to open the album. It was a case of you had me at "along." I mean, it is a slow start that is just full of want. "You're young and full of everything good and I can't be wrong. / You come and I go / You come and I go / You come and I go…along." And then the piano cautiously picks out the melody from the strumming guitar and I was immediately familiar with the song. I can say that about the whole album. I was familiar with it. I had never heard it but I knew it. I thought I knew it but not in a bad or biblical way. I think someone owes me a beer. (Just kidding it is my turn to buy. I see you on Rosemary Street at Hell.)

Well, I hope you won't be a stranger. I miss you guys like hell and I want you to know that I still am not over you picking Mark Price and Chris Badger over me and the other Visart Video employees to be in your band. I know Mark Price has the experience of being the drummer for Archers of Loaf and I can't play drums for s***. And that other guy, Alan Whitehead, sound engineer to the indie stars like Comas, Sparklehorse, and Camper Von Beethoven (to name a few) might be considered an asset but seriously, Chris Badger? Was it the beard? I have a better beard than him any day. Just kidding. Ha! That guy is great.

I hope this letter finds you well and you will find some time to write me back this time. I mean, people that I talk to are starting to think that you don't really like me. One guy even said that I don't even really know you and I'm all like, oh yeah, then why do I know where he lives? You can't just look up information like that. You really have to work to get that info. It takes a lot of hours in a car, driving with the lights off and crouching down in the front seat. Ha! I never crouched.

See you soon!

Rob Nipe

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Hotel Lights

Label:Bar None Records

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