Stephanie Hatfield And Hot Mess | Stephanie Hatfield And Hot Mess

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Rock: Americana Rock: Progressive Rock Moods: Mood: Party Music
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Stephanie Hatfield And Hot Mess

by Stephanie Hatfield And Hot Mess

Stephanie Hatfield invites us into the wonder of her life by shoving us head first into the back seat of a speeding car that is her music with Hot Mess. A vessel of unfeigned guitars, vocals, sex and madness built upon empires of heartache and new-found
Genre: Rock: Americana
Release Date: 

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1. Suffer
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3:40 $0.99
2. Follow Me to the Mesa
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3:41 $0.99
3. Can I Stay
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4:12 $0.99
4. Don't Turn Away
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3:33 $0.99
5. Last Night
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6:19 $0.99
6. She Falls Apart
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3:42 $0.99
7. Blue Miles
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3:33 $0.99
8. Just A Man
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5:02 $0.99
9. One Lie
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3:47 $0.99
10. In the Water
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3:58 $0.99
11. Fishboy
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2:41 $0.99
12. Let You In
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3:28 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Wide-open Debut
Local IQ
Classically trained vocalist eschews opera for something messier

By Gabriel Gomez
Debut albums can be tricky to quantify, because they inevitably become the touchstone that measures the vitality and relevance of an artist’s career. “Sophomore” efforts, or the proverbial dribble, “I liked their early stuff better,” are standard modes of understanding new musical ventures. But when we speak of debut albums, we must do it in a language that affords a balance of the intellectual and spiritual, so that we may begin to understand the creative impulse of anyone willing to expose and announce themselves to the world through a collection of songs.

Stephanie Hatfield, a classically trained opera vocalist who lives in Santa Fe, may be only willing to invite us into the wonder of her life by shoving us head first into the back seat of speeding car that is her remarkable debut album. But once we’re in, the record is a fussy and mercurial collection reminding us that the basic derivations of rock music matter most when unbinding the pages of our souls with melodies. Together with her band, Hot Mess, they are the ping from a distant radar bouncing from a lost vessel of unfeigned guitars, vocals, sex and madness built upon empires of heartache and new-found love.

The self-titled album, Stephanie Hatfield and Hot Mess, has the markings of a typical debut release. The 12-track album is largely non-committal in style, but is ultimately a rock ’n’ roll record. The four-piece band, flanked by keyboard and violin fills, is equally balanced throughout each song, which unfolds, rather than assaults, onto the senses. The album is not entirely mellow per se, but will undoubtedly pair well with a whiskey bender and generally shady behavior.
The rhythms and melodies — intro, bridge, crescendo — aren’t without familiarity and comfort. But what the album lacks in seasoned persona is made up with unrelenting spirit tethered by a cast of able musicians including Hatfield (guitar and lead vocals), Jason Aspelet (drums), Matt McClinton (bass and vocals) and Bill Palmer (lead guitar and vocals). McClinton and Palmer, two veteran players, co-produced the album.

It is no secret that bands and producers often place the “best” three songs at the beginning of their albums. Whether this is to captivate audiences, critics or radio program managers is one thing, but what’s clear on this particular album is that the first three songs function as a dare. They are, for lack of a better description, panoramically singular and support the idea that the band is either casting the widest net possible for attention or that they simply care not about consistency.

The album begins with “Suffer.” Palmer wrote the lyrics for this country-rock song, which introduces the album with a lingering melody focused on Hatfield’s vocals and a signature guitar riff. It is a stark contrast to “Follow Me to the Mesa,” a big bottom-end funked number supported by the piano of Santa Fe local Kevin Zoernig, which sounds straight out of Frenchmen Street in New Orleans. The third song, “Can I Stay,” echoes Brandi Carlyle with sweeping anthem guitars. All the while, Hatfield’s vocals map the unchartered landscape, espousing unrelenting control that at times makes you just want to die as they pierce right through you.

“In the Water,” the tenth track, is the album’s apex. From production to delivery to musicianship, it is the anchor of this debut release and hints at the possibilities of this relatively young band. The track captures an unforced purity that is difficult to capture in the studio.

Any band in the world can claim to make music beyond definitions; it is a claim that is patently impossible to achieve. But it is rare that a band is able to capture itself exploring sound and extending its possibilities by playing music for its simple and exhilarating joy. Stephanie Hatfield and Hot Mess has delivered a striking debut. It is not without flaws, but what is certain is that real talent still manages to separate itself from the clutter, and one can only hope that Hatfield, et al, will continue searching and making music, unbounded.


Reviews


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Casa 505

mall rock
Music for trying on pants.

Blix

Re-inventing her voice
This is a great CD, it's not exactly my genre of music but it was catchy right off, and then it grew on me more! Anything I had heard before from her was all sung classically, and for which she has a great voice, but this new edge is exactly what she needed to break out in indie rock. Between her 'new found' vocal styling and the addition of a band that brings out the best in her, Steph (and Mess) has hit the mark. I am really exited to hear where their music takes them.
The style? Well it's singer/songwriter - Americana type stuff, although I really don't know what that means. I'd say it's straight up rock with a lot of influences, jazzy at times and a bit country in a song or two (I do NOT like country, but the song that could definitely be played on country stations, 'In the Water', is actually one of my favs!). The great piano and violin on a few of the songs helps give a good amount of depth and easily prevents any of the songs from blending in to the point of not remembering which is which. From sultry to sad each song also has its own mood, yet contributes without much conflict to an overall emotion for the album. It's relaxing really, and makes me think of New Mexico. I don't know if that's because of the guitar or because I know SHaHM are from there, but I always picture the landscape when listening to these songs.
The strings are great; really diverse and catchy without being too complicated. Sometimes great guitar work ends up competing with the rest of the music but in this I'd say they compliment the vocals and other instruments perfectly. The bass lays down the foundation and the guitarist seems to know when not to get up his own ass with complicated riffs. Instead he finds a happy medium (pun intended) and teases out some great emotion from the strings like in 'Last Night'.
The percussion is good, I wouldn't rate it up top because I am hard to please with skins (I've been listening to alot of metal and punk so that doesn't help) but then again I think highly technical drums might be too drowning here. I could definitely see a less experienced drummer overfill and overplay, insisting on being heard by playing hard and heavy. It's just like with the guitars; the percussion accents everything else instead of competing with it, but is still noticeable in its own right. Examples: 'Follow Me to the Mesa' and 'Blue Miles'.
Lyrics: a good variety of subjects, sometimes coded and sometimes forthright. You've got some sad, some playful, some love songs, etc. They are all pretty catchy and singable, and several of them good enough I found myself singing to them randomly after only hearing the CD a few times! I have some beef with how cliche 'She Falls Apart' is though, not to slam on battered woman songs but there is not much to differentiate it from others of the like. However the music is quite good on that one. 'Last Night' is really sad, and with the help of the guitar it can get to ya. Like I said before, great emotion there. But not to worry, 'Blue Miles' is sure to pick you back up! 'Let You In' is another one that I like a lot, you'll have to listen for yourself to see what you get out of it.
All and all it's is a well-rounded album, much more than what I'd expect from a debut. The mixing is great, all of the levels seem perfect and it never sounds tinny or dull. No one instrument drowns another out, you notice one track over another because of its content, not its volume. Highly recommended for aficionados of almost any genre. Unless you pretty much only listen to gansta rap, you're going to like this CD.

Hope this was helpful!