Alt.County’s HemlockHotel Capture the Emotional Upheaval of Youth with “Angry Young Man”
Being young often means dealing with emotions you don’t fully understand; it’s only with age that real perspective and true maturity can be gained. Ottawa-based HemlockHotel captures that conundrum with their melodic, smooth-rockin’ Americana anthem “Angry Young Man.”
A warm blend of rich, full-bodied acoustic guitar, wailing electric guitar, and easy beats, “Angry Young Man” tells the first-person narrative about a confused young man in conflict with the people he loves, even though he knows it isn’t deserved.
Well, I am a soldier,
Without a cause,
Well, I keep on fightin’,
The people I love,
Come on dear Jesus,
I’m not a saint.
The chorus kicks in, and that’s when the narrator admits in a soaring melody, “Well, I’m an angry young man/Fighting for something I can’t understand.”
The inspiration for the song came from Greek philosophy – which is not all that surprising when you consider how the Greeks had a word to identify every nuance of emotion.
“I remember taking this course on ancient Greek philosophy,” frontman Rod Leggett said, “and the teacher was going on about thumos.”
Thumos is an old word for the concept of “spiritedness.” “At its worst, it’s rage — like the rage of Achilles,” Leggett continued. “At its best, it becomes courage.”
At one point, Leggett’s teacher told the class that young men are especially prone to thumos. “That stuck with me,” Rod recalled. “He’s right. I mean, young men really are prone to being angry.”
Not long after HemlockHotel recorded the song, Rod knew the band was on the right track.
He was listening to another song by another band, the Talking Heads’ “(Nothing But) Flowers” and heard the opening lyrics: “Years ago, I was an angry young man/And I’d pretend/That I was a billboard/Standing tall.”
“I thought, ‘Ok, David Byrne gets it. I’m good with that,’” Rod said. “You know, I really look up to that guy.”
HemlockHotel proudly calls Ottawa home and recently added TJ Jones, formerly of the band Dynasty, on bass. The band also consists of Rod, Mark Paré on lead guitar and Danny Lee Duke on drums. Despite the pandemic, the now-four-piece band is managing to give the occasional live performance and spend time in the studio.
“Angry Young Man” is the band’s first release since its 2020 eponymous album. It will be followed by a second single to be released in April 2022. Both songs were recorded with Steve Foley at Audio Valley Studios in Ottawa, and HemlockHotel plans to return to the studio in the spring to record another suite of songs.
“Angry Young Man” is available now.