The storied, veteran jack of all trades offers up a rollicking new single about getting out of the eponymous locale in a fun, bite-sized package.
Mike Coykendall has been around the block his share of times, collaborating with artists such as M. Ward and Bright Eyes, acting as producer and engineer for such albums as Ward’s The Transfiguration of Vincent and collaborating with She & Him and Bright Eyes in both studio and live settings. His latest offering as a solo act is less so a crystallized approach (it’s got far too much good grit for that) to the folk rock world and more a stripped down take on the roots of the genre itself, balancing between the jangling folk of Dylan and the distortion fuzz of lo-fi pioneers Guided By Voices.
“This is kind of a rally song for the conflict avoidant types, of which I am one. We tend to find our little corners where we feel safe and we get stuck there, returning again and again. Here’s to knowing when it’s time to stop escaping and time to start visiting some of the scary places. Escapists, escaping escapism.” – Mike Coykendall
“Hi-Ho Hotel” starts simply enough, dominated by acoustic strumming and Coykendall’s cool, nasal croons. “I’m checking out of the Hi-Ho Hotel” is an oft-repeated mantra throughout, with grimy details slipping in through the cracks with each verse. Mold covered showers, terrible smells, and a pervading feeling of unrest for someone “on the run” fill the corners of the song’s story, amplified by a thrumming bass/drum line that keeps pace like a racing heart. Distorted guitars inevitably wash through as the song enters its second half, pressing the simplistic beginnings of the song down as if some sort of sonic vice, pierced only by the hypnotic tone of the narrator assumedly checking out and “ringing the bell.”
This review cannot deny the effectiveness of the accompanying music video, created by Charlie Maxton, showcasing a number of spots in his and Mike’s current hometown of Portland, OR. The video highlights the raucous nature of the song’s snapshots, spiraling through each verse with creative renderings of Coykendall performing out of time and out of space, and is not to be missed.
Coykendall’s experience as an engineer is a shining highlight here- where these sounds, sparse as they may be, could easily fall flat with the wrong mix, they instead manage to shine with each respective introduction. No one instrument dominates the next and each element fits satisfyingly into its own pocket. Before you know it, the song is over, and, hopefully, Coykendall has, in fact, checked out.
“Hi-Ho Hotel” is out now and streaming everywhere. Grab a room and take it in for a while.
Review by Bobby Guard