Sun Hotel to debut new album, play final show Saturday

Ben Shooter, Staff Reporter

After a long sabbatical, New Orleans indie-punk rockers Sun Hotel are finally back in action, albeit temporarily. On Saturday, they’ll be playing a show at One Eyed Jack’s to celebrate the release of its new album, “Rational Expectations.” This show, however, will be the last chance for fans to catch Sun Hotel live in concert. The band is splitting up to pursue other ventures, and “Rational Expectations” is its final musical offering.

The album itself presents an incredibly distinct sound. Five years since its last release, the band’s sound has certainly evolved. “Rational Expectations” displays musical sophistication on par with Of Montreal or The Strokes combined with wispy, melodic vocal hooks and thought-provoking lyrical content. The album shows a band that can pull off dissonant post —punk, seamlessly switching gears to a clean, mellow groove — sometimes within the same song. Standout tracks are “After Peggy Tells Her Parents They Never Had Any Trouble in Their Relationship,” with its bright riffs and gritty bent notes, and the infectious “Graves.”  Tyler Scurlock, the band’s front man, shed light on some of the musical ideas behind the album and compared its sound to its previous album “Coasts.” 

“It’s really funny to listen to the ‘Coasts’ songs as compared to the new album,” Scurlock said. “‘Coasts’ songs are a lot of standard… but the new album has a lot of linear songwriting and movements. We’re not using power chords or traditional chords – we’re thinking of new chords, trying out different tunings, things like that.”

New influences played a part in the musical experimentation in the new album. Scurlock cites Yo La Tengo and Sonic Youth when thinking of bands that inspired him.

“I keep going deeper and deeper every day into the Yo La Tengo abyss,” Scurlock said. “I think the album actually sounds quite a lot like some of their stuff.”

Some fans may recognize some of the songs on the album, since “Rational Expectations” includes a number of tracks the band premiered in its live sets as early as 2012.

“There was an attempt to do this album in 2013 and I had finished all of the actual rough demos for the album,” Scurlock said. “And then we pretty much scrapped the whole project and rebuilt it and saved like six of the tracks.”

Of the 10 tracks on the album, Scurlock is particularly proud of his most recent writing. 

“There’s actually about three songs on the album that were so new that we never played them live ever,” Scurlock said. “We wrote Tropic of Cancer and Alprazolam right before recording the album, and those are two of my favorites.”

With the album complete, Sun Hotel is now preparing for Saturday’s show. The band plans to include as many fan favorites in its set as possible, as their audience comes together for this last hurrah.

“We’ve been getting contacted by people from all over the country talking about how they’re coming down from the show from like New York, Philadelphia, Nashville, like random places,” Scurlock said. “I like the new songs so much, but I know they’re not coming to hear them because they’re never heard them … We’re going to be playing a lot of old songs, a lot of crowd pleasers.”

While reflecting on the earlier years of Sun Hotel, Scurlock explained the reasoning behind the band’s decision to quit. 

“It really was not anyone’s individual decision,” Scurlock said. “There were a lot of reasons. The main one is our guitar player Alex, he moved to California last summer. He and I were the first two original members. We wrote pretty much the initial songs for every song that became a Sun Hotel song together … I was not really interested in trying to work out that relationship with someone else and call it Sun Hotel.”

While such a career move is difficult to make, Scurlock is confident that it is the right thing to do.  The other band members, he said, are already involved in other projects.

“A posthumous reunion tour in maybe like 10 years I could totally see happening, but nothing in the immediate future,” Scurlock said. “It looks like everybody is on very separate trajectories for a little while. Luckily we’re all still part of the same community and I still see every member of Sun Hotel all the time.”