Hospital Food – Oblivion Album Review.
Ridicule, ignorance, self-indulgent, self-loathing, angry verging on deranged but also intelligent, kind, informative, funny and helpful, this is the daily conversations you come across when trying to find some new punk music to listen to through searching on forums. As well as the cry from the self-doubters seeking confirmation that they are listening to what’s right, “Is this Punk?” or Is that Punk?” avoiding their own opinion like a shit on the pavement. Punk music has grown like a musical plague throughout the world since the 1970s, expanding in all directions and going from 0 – 100 mph in speed depending on your taste. If we cling on to anything from those early years, it’s that anyone can do it and not just the chosen few. Across the globe there are bands not just playing music but releasing their tunes, organising tours, creating and selling merchandise, and publishing themselves all over the internet, this is undoubtedly an era of DIY which very much embraces the Punk ethos. Hospital Food are just one of those bands who come off the hamster wheel in the Rat Race every weekend to gig up and down the country, singing songs about life, love and lunacy. This to some may be nothing more than a raucous noise from amateur musicians or an unusual hobby, but looking closer and it is a vehicle to express your point of view, anger at an unjust world or indeed any subject you wish to cover in a room full of likeminded suffering souls. Where else can a working class human being have the freedom to do such a thing today, without the justifiable fear of a custodial sentence ready to feel your collar. Instead of pulling Punk apart and dissecting it into positives and negatives, it should be protected and celebrated for what it has become before this freedom is also taken away or censored in the name of law like so many other outlets.
The new album from Hospital Food “Oblivion” starts with the very core of what they are a part of, “DIY Punk Band” describes what is a labour of love for those who get up on stage and bare themselves and their creations to the viewing public. Formed in 2009 the band has had a few changes but now have settled as a 3 piece; Ben Savage on Bass/Vocal, Nathan Seaton on Guitar/Vocal and Dom Smith Drums. The album cover is very distinctive and credit to Thomas Mangold for coming up with the Nuclear Clown, mixing comedy and disaster in a cloud of smoke. Hospital Food seem to take a lot of inspiration from the ‘82 bands with their sound, songs such as “Benefits Street” have the energy and lyrics of working (Or Not) class life. Short sharp riffs are an introduction to living on state handouts that’s filmed for the country’s entertainment, a catchy chorus for a subject close to every town and city whether you choose to notice or ignore it. A nice little Intro and harmonies increase the beats per min with “Punk Rock Heart”, midway through we enter some fast-fingered guitar work before we get back to the subject of what matters and will always matter. The doom and gloom of “Ur Dead” is the harsh reality of dying alone in your house, the tune captures the eeriness and brutality of the subject “No one cares about you” is the cry. I don’t foresee this being an ITune top download very soon, but it does tackle a subject that is real in communities where we live. “Intimidating Man” is a little more polished and melodic with some good harmonies throughout, it’s a well-constructed song and shows a side of Hospital Food that steps out from the street punk umbrella onto the sunnier side of the street. The same could be said for “Goodbye Harry Patch” and the excellent “Small Man in a Big World” where The Clash style backing grips the song to good effect, showing a diversity that you wouldn’t expect from hearing the first few tracks on the album. A large step into the spotlight for Hospital Food with some great arrangements and a very infectious chorus, if you’re going to take a little influence from any band to add something to your own song then who better than The Clash. Its back to the street for the remaining tracks and ending with “Oblivion” a slower paced menacing track, with a heavy bass influence complimenting the rougher vocal. The last track on the album might be about the end of the world, but hopefully we will hear more from Hospital Food before the clown rises into the sky.
Sometimes when listening to an album you have it hung, drawn and quartered before the end of the first track, others may take some time to figure out or surprise you half way through like a kick up the arse. If bands like Hospital Food were not doing it themselves for the love of it, then where would the surprises come from?… not from the radio, TV or stadium bands that’s for sure. The freedom to be creative in any society is what keeps the beige and bland at bay, I didn’t have this album hung, drawn or quartered and I had thought I’d figured it out early but it then gave me a good kick up the arse.