Hospital Ships: A One-Man Band Makes Good
Hospital Ships founder and sole member Jordan Geiger has a long, varied indie-rock resume, with stints as the trumpeter in Shearwater and the chief songwriter of Minus Story. On his first album as a solo artist, Oh, Ramona, Geiger showcases his artistic progress while displaying remarkable tenderness. His concisely drawn songs get fleshed out in these weepy bedroom recordings, rendered with more than just crackly, near-whispered vocals and gentle strums on an acoustic guitar.
Oh, Ramona's title track unfurls slowly over the course of a sublime three minutes, buttressed by layered instrumentation and a flair for the experimental that recalls The Flaming Lips. (Geiger named Hospital Ships after a song on that band's 1995 album Clouds Taste Metallic.) Before "Oh, Ramona" is over, Geiger has even unveiled a swell of horns to go with his oscillating chord progressions.
Inevitably, Geiger has earned comparisons to Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst, thanks to their shared Midwestern roots and emotive lyrics. But with Oberst coming of age musically, Hospital Ships' makes an ideal heir apparent: Oh, Ramona is rooted firmly in Geiger's "not a boy, not yet a man" phase. Fortunately, Geiger doesn't take himself nearly as seriously. The real-life Ramona in "Oh, Ramona"? The singer's cat.
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