As someone who hadn’t heard of Hodera, I wasn’t sure what to expect right before I began listening to their new album, United by Birdcalls. After spending some time with their music, I can say that I am so happy I found them. Listening to their music is like an emotional release. It’s that album you crave when you come home from a bad day. It’s that album you blast in the car on a cold January morning. It’s that album you cry to when you’re lost.
The LP starts off with “Breathe Easy,” an effortless guitar riff, then drums and the relatable lyrics crawl into your mind. Hodera, have you been following me around? How can you understand exactly what I’m feeling? During the main hook, the singer screams, “Well can you breathe?” followed by fluttering guitars. The song provokes so much emotion; you might find yourself forgetting to breathe.
The second track, “Feel Better,” is a continuation of the doubtful feeling that the first song conveyed. The verses are subtle and lyrically-driven, while the chorus is musically explosive, as the singer screams, “Why can’t I feel better?” We’re listening to a person who is aware of his negative feelings and is doing everything to make them go away but simply cannot. He’s searching for the answer.
“The Outside,” the third song, starts off with an acoustic guitar lead this time, as opposed to electric. The main lyric repeated throughout this song is “Everything’s fine on the outside / everything’s fine.” Here, the singer is telling us that although he seems fine, there is so much going on in his head. He later describes this metaphorical creature that crawls into his room at night, and he deals with it by hiding underneath the blanket. This means that he’s not really dealing with his thoughts, he’s just ignoring them – almost as if he’s used to it and giving in. As long as he looks good on the outside.
Skip forward to “Three Years,” which is a stripped down, acoustic track. The singer paints a perfect picture with his lyrics, by singing, “I’ve deleted that station from my guitar stereo, from the app on my phone / it hurts to listen to silence / when I open my eye lids first thing in the morning.” Because he describes every small detail with his words, you almost feel like you’re there. After this, harmonies come into the chorus and it’s so simple yet so powerful that you truly feel like you’re flying and your heart is ripped out of your chest. This is one of the most emotional songs on the record (as if the other songs weren’t emotional enough) and specifically reminds me of Say Anything’s, “I Want To Know Your Plans.”
The album finishes strong with “I Remember Everything.” As the singer says, “this is the part I hate the most / this is the part I hate the most / there’s no goodbye / just walking away,” the music builds up and leads into a powerful instrumental break filled with quivering guitars and a beating drum that’s generous with cymbals. When you think the song is over half way, it takes a completely different turn that sounds like a new song. Once again, it’s simple with just acoustic guitar and layered vocals. It builds up nicely and then ends with a subtle decrescendo.
There’s an ongoing theme throughout this record, all about self-pity and anxiety, yet Hodera tackles it so well that it doesn’t necessarily come off as complaining or whining. Instead, the singer seems like he’s aware of these feelings but is truly struggling, and the thoughts that he’s struggling with are not only felt by him, but everyone listening. If you like indie-punk bands like Brand New, La Dispute or The Front Bottoms, then United By Birdcalls is an album you need to check out.