Not long after Annihilation hit the streets on May 10, Hoarseman began the countdown for his next collection, Notre Dame is Burning, releasing it on July 31.
The speed at which he put out his third record (in not quite three months) was already impressive – then, not five minutes after he sat down to talk to me, he revealed that it was actually ready for release on July 4. Technical difficulties involving the distributor set the record back almost a month, but the songs were already recorded and mastered by the beginning of July.
There was a reason for the quickness, as Quinton Hoagland of Hoarseman explained. With Annihilation, the main concept involved the catastrophic end to a long relationship. Notre Dame is Burning contains a few songs that are also about that same relationship; these were leftover from the Annihilation era that just didn’t fit with the others.
Hoagland is ready to move on from that relationship, though. In fact, he has moved on – the ill will he had felt is long gone. So, in order to fully transcend into the next era, he released Notre Dame is Burning as soon as he possibly could. The next album, he says, will not be for awhile because he is writing completely new material with completely different themes.
As happy as we are that he is moving on from the heavy themes in his last couple of albums, we have to admit that those emotions produced some great songs.
The album begins with the title track – and the theme is set. Rather than the arc of his last couple of albums, where the songs fall into a pit of despair and then climb out, he begins with destruction in the first song.
With its catchy hook and woeful concept, the song is the kind that will stick in your head for days on end.
The next couple of tracks (“Counterfeit Love” and “Crown of Thorns”) continue this gloomy outlook, pairing depressing lyrics with spunky tunes that remind you of a rotting Jack-o-lantern (dead inside with big carved-out grin).
There’s anger and spite and frustration bleeding into each note. “Counterfeit Love” demands an answer to the question of “how could you?” “Crown of Thorns” paints a clear-cut victim. With “Change Me,” blame is cast.
Then comes the implosion of “Granite House.” Suddenly, the weight of everything hits and blame shifts. It becomes a question of “how could I?” rather than “how could you?”
This brings the next block of inner hatred. The songs (“The Road” and “Hammock”) careen down the rabbit hole as they become more defensive and bitter. They’re plucky and messy, feelings spilling like marbles rolling across the floor.
Then, there’s the finale. The finale is “You’ll Never Change,” and it is a tearjerker. All of the songs in this album are broken ballads, but this one is different. It’s less woe-is-me and more… resigned. Finally, there’s acceptance.
Every song on the album is artfully crafted and infused with raw emotion. There’s drama and exaggeration, but there’s also a dash of realism. This is something understandable; it’s something with which people can relate.
Check out Hoarseman on all social media and music streaming sites. If you happen to be in Tulsa tomorrow (September 26), be sure to stop by the Vanguard to see Hoarseman and the Heard in action.