Ranking House of Heroes’ Discography
March 15, 2011Posted by on
The difference between how I feel about House of Heroes today and how I felt about them the first time I listened to a few tracks in some Christian book store years ago is about as vast as the grand canyon. They aren’t a band that everyone will “get” on first listen. I know I didn’t. Now that they have grown on me and I have everything that I know to exist by them, I feel it’s appropriate that we have an honest discussion about what I believe to be their best work.
#4 What You Want Is Now
From what was once a pop punk band by the name of “No Tagbacks”, came forth the debut album of the newly named “House of Heroes” (a name chosen over other choices such as The First Time and The Black Fantastic). There are traces of the band that we have come to know in this album, but you have to know what you’re looking for to really appreciate them, as they were playing the lines of being the alt pop band that they are today and possibly being some kind of an indie rock jam band, with vocalist Tim Skipper’s voice not being fully developed within the band’s framework just yet. Although the first two tracks, “Julia” and “Barbara’s Birthday” are quite memorable, it is really “Mercedes Baby” that showed the most promise, which I suppose is why it was placed on the next two releases as well.
#3 Say No More/House of Heroes
The ability to see a diamond in the rough takes a rare talent, and whoever saw it in House of Heroes deserves a big high five around this time. House of Heroes came out with a self-titled album after What You Want Is Now, which led to a re-release of the album under the name “Say No More” with Mono Versus Stereo Records, an imprint of Gotee Records, where the band currently resides. I will focus my attention more on the Say No More version as I listen to it more frequently, and there are few differences, but the improvements are recognizable as the band begins to come into their own. With cutting lyrics that dig deep, while challenging social norms, Say No More features some amazing songs, such as “Buckets For Bullet Wounds”, “Friday Night” and “Serial Sleepers” among others. As great as some of those songs are, with the lyrics being some of my absolute favorite from the band, the album does drop off a bit toward the end, but it is easy to see where the band was heading, as long as you have 20/20 hindsight.
Up until now, I doubt that there would be much different of opinion among the non-hipster, as there was an obvious jump in overall album quality when the band began working with producer Mark Lee Townsend. Suburba, which was once intended to be some sort of a concept album, with a story from start to finish, ended up with more of a theme of growing up in America and the decisions that can be made in such times. Although the guitar riffs remained intact, Suburba is by far the most pop of any album, with songs like “Elevator” and “She Mighty Mighty”. On the other hand, you could see some of their pop-punk beginnings with songs like “Love Is For The Middle Class” and “Independence Day For A Petty Thief”. Then to show variety, you also get some sweet ballads with “Salt In The Sea” and “Constant”. The real topper, however, is with the Queen-ish “God Save The Foolish Kings” featuring label mate Stephanie Smith.
#1 The End Is Not The End
The real question isn’t what makes Suburba not as good as The End Is Not The End, as I was obviously impressed with Suburba enough to make it my second favorite album of 2010, but rather what makes The End Is Not The End so special. If you told me I had a nostalgia bias because this is the album that I first got into the band by, then I don’t know if there’d be enough evidence to acquit me in a court of law, but I will press on anyway. Much like Suburba, The End Is Not The End is not quite a concept album, but heavily themed, with ideas of love, faith and war intertwining throughout the album. With a plethora of tracks to cover, the sheer brilliance of how every track works together and are individually hits are what puts it over the top. I could talk about how I can’t not sing “If” for days after having heard it or how “Baby’s A Red” makes me re-think communism for a moment, but really the album just works as a whole better than most albums I’ve ever heard. Of course, like anything House of Heroes, it took time to ingest and digest properly to fully appreciate it.
How would you rank them?