Sound Advice: Centre of the Universe by Hostage Life
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Sound Advice: Centre of the Universe by Hostage Life

Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.


…Or the end of an era as Hostage Life return and then quickly and mysteriously disband while on top of their game.
Only five weeks after releasing their second full-length, Centre of the Universe, the follow-up to 2006’s surprise commercial hit Walking Papers, Hostage Life posted an “intentionally vague” few sentences on MySpace stating that their upcoming album-release show would now also serve as their send off. Plans had already been made by the band and their new label (local fun factory Juicebox Recording Co., the baby of our very own, very favourite freelance editor and a former staffer/current guest contributor) to accompany the free digital release with a pretty vinyl pressing, but without a band to take on tour, and without a tour to pay for pressing all of those records, the plans were stopped in the nick of time. Now Hostage Life are left with one-hundred blank-sleeve, blank-label, numbered keepsakes that can be ordered online or picked up at the sure-to-be-lovefest of a show.

Sadface. (Fan reaction comment from Hostage Life’s MySpace)

So, the record. Centre of the Universe is a musically explosive and intellectually ambitious (the band has written big ol’ personal and philosophical essays for each song) behemoth dressed in catchy pop-punk clothing. It’s full of nods to the crunchy, catchy past that plastered them all over modern rock radio and heavy Muchmusic rotation a few years ago, but by letting the guitars breathe (peace out, cheap distortion) and even slowing down (well, sort of, sometimes), the band finds a maturity that bridges their distinct classic-’70s snarl (“Bonfires,” streaming above) with the airtight modern structures of other Clash-borns Green Day and Rancid (“Ratlines”) and even some straight-up sludgy guitar rock that Bob Pollard could dig on a good day (“Nuclear”). It’s the record that’s been brewing in them for years—forever, really—and hearing the true conviction, joy, and momentum behind this defining performance should evoke, if nothing else, a respectful and universal holy shit. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never considered yourself a fan of Hostage Life, but if you know or care about their contribution to the southern Ontario punk community, this is worth a listen.

What are you talking about, Underground Operations manages Stereos now! (Fan reaction comment from Hostage Life’s MySpace)

So, the dirt. In an interview with Chartattack late last week, drummer Paul Miller explained that “[The decision] came about because [vocalist] Colin had to get away from band life for a good long while. All people really need to know is that there are no busted feelings and this was something that we had to do.” Torontoist wishes all well.

He’s got a point. See also: The Police. (Fan reaction comment from Hostage Life’s MySpace)

Hostage Life play their last show this Friday, November 20 at Sneaky Dee’s with The Little Millionaires and others. Show is at 8 p.m. and costs priceless dollars…Or, more accurately, $5. Download Centre of the Universe from Juicebox Recording Co. for however much or little you would like.