State Lines
Hoffman Manor


4.5
superb

Review

by Mary Paultese USER (35 Reviews)
January 4th, 2012 | 12 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Cheers, State Lines.

Any avid music listener knows how it feels to fall in love with an album. Of course, the progression from listening to an album for the very first time to becoming completely enamored with it is something that takes time. However, for an album to merit multiple listens, there usually has to be some aspect that stands out. State Lines’ Hoffman Manor was recommended to me as a blend of indie and pop punk in the vein of early Brand New (a very accurate description), and what was immediately noticeable upon the first listen was the variety in songwriting. The album ranges from moderately-paced, to upbeat (albeit never too fast), to slow and emotional, as it is broken up in several places by acoustic tracks. While I could explain several more reasons as to why the album immediately grabbed my attention, there is one particular lyric from the song, Probably In a Notebook, that slapped me on the face and forced me to listen to the album over and over (and over and over and over…):

”I always seem to find some obscure beauty in my life on days that I feel less alive.”

A week prior to listening to Hoffman Manor, I had been explaining this exact phenomenon to a friend, saying that whenever I begin to slip into depression over the monotony of life, something will happen that reinstates my happiness and desire to live. Melodrama aside, because of this lyric, I became fully enthralled by the album, and over a month later, I still am.

The record itself is a loose concept album about an assisted living home called Hoffman Manor, described by singer Jonathon Dimitri (who may or may not be referred to as JD, I don’t know) as a shit hole that costs way too much money for a place that you are just going to die in. Tracks four, five, and ten, Cancer, Garvey, and the title track, respectively, are the ones most closely related to the album’s theme, and all deal with the idea of death and its acceptance in one way or another. For a band comprised of 18 and 19-year-olds, this is heavy stuff – none of that trite, “I’m sad because this girl dumped me,” pop punk can be found on Hoffman Manor. Instead, the album’s lyrical content is nostalgic and introspective. For example, the track, My Friends, which drops the band’s name more than a few times in its lyrics, is about growing up with dreams of living a life on the road, and is done in such a way that it does not come off as cliché.

The musicianship of the album is not incredibly complex, but there is no reason for it to be. The band plays in some wacky quarter-step down tuning that I couldn’t quite figure out myself, which alone is enough to attest that State Lines are very capable musicians. The guitar parts can typically be described as warm-sounding, and they perfectly suit the type of music being played. Simple, yet effective lead lines are thrown in from time to time to add some melody to the songs, nicely complimenting Dimitiri’s vocals. The creativity of the drumming does shine through at some parts of the album, as displayed in the intro of My Friends. The bass is nicely audible, and the vocals, in addition to being lyrically strong, are catchy and anthemic, and have a way of sounding much more impressive than they really are; they are the type of vocals that I sing along to in my car at the top of my lungs and get a false sense of accomplishment from because I can actually hit every note without hurting my voice. Guitarist Tom Werring also helps out Dimitri on the vocals, providing some pretty harmonies as well as call-and-response vocals at times.

The combination of the maturity, catchiness, and relatable-ness of Hoffman Manor is what keeps me coming back for repeated listens. Each of the ten tracks on the album is as meaningful as the next, and because they range from two to four minutes each, no particular track drags on or ends prematurely. Judging by the crowd responses at shows and the amount of positive feedback they have received on the internet, State Lines are doing something right. They have achieved almost a cult-like following for such a new and generally undiscovered band, and rightfully so. Hoffman Manor was undoubtedly the biggest surprise of 2011 for myself and many others; it is the album that crept to the top of my “Albums of the Year” list at the last minute, and will remain as one of the most memorable albums I have discovered to this date.



Recent reviews by this author
Saves the Day Can't Slow DownHouse Boat 21st Century Breakroom
Joie de Vivre We're All Better Than ThisState Lines State Lines
Light Black Ex WivesDaytrader Twelve Years
user ratings (22)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
pmmets07
January 4th 2012


5913 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Review reeks of fanboyism but fuck it. Album is amazing.

iFghtffyrdmns
January 4th 2012


7047 Comments


Review reeks of fanboyism but fuck it.


I mean... don't all of yours?

sniper
January 4th 2012


19080 Comments


never mind, read the part about vocal harmonies

iFghtffyrdmns
January 4th 2012


7047 Comments


in seriousness though, good review. just be careful with going too far with the stuff about YOU and the album, your eagerness to jump into the album's personal effect on you takes away from your writing at times - it's something that works better in small doses

accompliceofmydeath
January 4th 2012


4297 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, I can tell you loved this. Sounds awesome though.

Digging: Weekend Nachos - Unforgivable

Tyrannic
January 4th 2012


3262 Comments


"The band plays in some wacky quarter-step down tuning that I couldn’t quite figure out myself, which alone is enough to attest that State Lines are very capable musicians."

ugh this was great until this. if you can't figure something out, figure it out. or at least google it.

your, ahem, penultimate paragraph isn't necessary. i knew the lyrics were strong when you brought up the one before. until you bring up the song's length and unobtrusiveness, it's pretty much not necessary.

good review though, this is on my queue of things to listen to today. thanks.

pmmets07
January 4th 2012


5913 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

haha yeah i tend to review albums that i love and gush about them. this was a very subjective review. i usually stay away from the first person, but this album just really hit home with me and i wanted to reflect on that.

and tyrannic, agreed. i'm gonna edit that second to last paragraph as it is redundant. and seriously, trying to play their songs is a bitch. i studied their acoustic songs for two hours one day and could only figure out some of the chords and tuning. that being said i don't have the best ear.

thanks for the feedback guys. for real.

Tyrannic
January 4th 2012


3262 Comments


lol, besides, i'm really one to talk considering i don't know the first thing about guitar...it sounds cool and it has strings woo.

accompliceofmydeath
January 5th 2012


4297 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is pretty good. Reminds me of Your Favorite Weapon era Brand New mixed with Seahaven.

jlech
January 6th 2012


126 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is great. My ears aren't well trained, but I think I hear a few open tunings maybe half a step down.

Mookid
February 18th 2013


1478 Comments


This is such a fun record. Takes me to many places

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
April 17th 2014


9064 Comments


Where can I get a copy of this



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy