Hotel of the Laughing Tree
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Hotel of the Laughing Tree

New York City, NY | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

New York City, NY | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Rock Indie

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"Mammoth Skin Pt. 1 Review"

This is my first essential pick this week. Just a few years ago it seemed like Long Island’s Hotel of The Laughing Tree were poised to explode out of the underground indie rock scene. After gaining attention from mtvU and national magazines following the release of their debut Old Dominion and subsequent followup Terror and Everything After, the band then proceeded to go into a bit of a period of hibernation and self-examination. Having lost and gained members, apparently parting from their label, selling their van, and readjusting their aim and approach for continuing forward (scaled down tour plans, self-release record model), the band is at a point where they’re genuinely making music purely for the love of it. And that sincerity is reflected all over their new EP, Mammoth Skin, Pt. 1 (as the title implies, Part 2 is coming early next year). The record is truly a labor of love from a band seeking only self-fulfillment. It’s poppy, it’s folky, it’s densely and melodically layered with sweeping harmonies and gang vocals, and the instrumentation is intelligent and tasteful. The tracks weave seamlessly from straightforward indie rock to progressive and epic. Hotel of The Laughing Tree have always been gifted songwriters and their latest release is their most focused, tastefully restrained, and consistently enjoyable. It’s the sound of a band remembering why they became a band in the first place, and oh what a wonderful sound it is. - No Country For New Nashville


"Terror and Everything After (review)"

ALBUM REVIEW: HOTEL OF THE LAUGHING TREE
Debut album: Terror and Everything After
February 24th, 2011Jordan BellCategory: Review6 Comments

One of the things about indie rock bands is that it’s actually pretty difficult to find really original, high quality, and salable music. That being said, Hotel of the Laughing Tree (or “Hotel,” as fans know them) is one of the few bands that cuts through the crowd and presents itself as a pretty marketable package. And apparently others have noticed it too, considering they’ve been reviewed by popular alternative music site AbsolutePunk, won the 6th Annual mtvU Woodie Awards in the category “Best Music on Campus,” were featured in Alternative Press Magazine as the “Unsigned Band of the Week” in January 2011, and were recently signed by indie label Brookvale Records immediately after recording their debut album.
From front to back, Hotel is filled with talent. Vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter AJ Estrada has a very flexible voice that can give us both gentle and powerful tones, with a very defined rock edge at a song’s most driving moments. Other axe players Brandon Peterson (guitar) and Anthony Arma (bass) present creative riffs left and right, and keys player Mike Solomon fills the mix with excellent countermelodies and some beautiful solo bits. Interestingly enough, these guys actually sport a glockenspiel player—Michael Nixdorf—who doubles on percussion with drummer Neil Scalese.

Photos by: Hurricane of Lions Photography
The Long Island-based indie/pop sextet brings us an imaginative and memorable set of songs with their debut album, Terror and Everything After. We begin with “Barnaby Bison’s Blind,” which hits us immediately with heavy rockin’ riffs and catchy vocals—very enjoyable. “Noah” shows their lighter side and features well-written vocal harmonies, and “Bad Canterbury” is a well-structured song with great buildups, a memorable chorus, and Estrada’s exciting vocals.
If you’re looking for more fast-paced or hard-driving songs, you’ll enjoy the bass-heavy, grooving triplet-feel track “Winchester Devil Grass;” the slow, heavy-hitting, and slightly creepy “Ghosts in the Basement;” the almost-out-of-control “Weather Maps for Nikolai;” or the multi-section title track, “Terror and Everything After.” And if you want to really take it down a notch, “Forging the Family Name” is a beautiful transition featuring solo piano by Solomon.

What nobody can deny about Hotel and the Laughing Tree’s Terror and Everything After is both the creative and carefully selected/mixed instrumentals. There is not only a ton of variety in the parts, but there was definitely huge attention to detail in creating a unique production value to each of the songs and adding parts for real color, not just filler. The songwriting is, as I said, very creative yet does not bore the casual listener who just wants to hear a great single with an awesome hook.
Overall, I’m extremely impressed at the quality of this debut album—I know we’re going to see a lot of great stuff from these boys in the future.

You can purchase this album at the iTunes store.
Terror and Everything After Track Listing:
01) Barnaby Bison’s Blind
02) Another Harvard Renaissance
03) Gods Great Gumball Machine
04) Noah
05) Winchester Devil Grass
06) Weather Maps for Nikolai
07) Sanctuary
08) Gunpowder Falls
09) Bad Canterbury
10) Forging the Family Name
11) Mont St. Michael
12) Ghosts in the Basement
13) Terror and Everything After
14) Lazarus
For more information on Hotel of the Laughing Tree:
http://hotelofthelaughingtree.wordpress.com/
Jordan Bell is a PR manager for an LA-based music company, and is a freelance writer, publicist, recording engineer, and classically-trained singer. - LA Music Blog


"Terror and Everything After (review)"

ALBUM REVIEW: HOTEL OF THE LAUGHING TREE
Debut album: Terror and Everything After
February 24th, 2011Jordan BellCategory: Review6 Comments

One of the things about indie rock bands is that it’s actually pretty difficult to find really original, high quality, and salable music. That being said, Hotel of the Laughing Tree (or “Hotel,” as fans know them) is one of the few bands that cuts through the crowd and presents itself as a pretty marketable package. And apparently others have noticed it too, considering they’ve been reviewed by popular alternative music site AbsolutePunk, won the 6th Annual mtvU Woodie Awards in the category “Best Music on Campus,” were featured in Alternative Press Magazine as the “Unsigned Band of the Week” in January 2011, and were recently signed by indie label Brookvale Records immediately after recording their debut album.
From front to back, Hotel is filled with talent. Vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter AJ Estrada has a very flexible voice that can give us both gentle and powerful tones, with a very defined rock edge at a song’s most driving moments. Other axe players Brandon Peterson (guitar) and Anthony Arma (bass) present creative riffs left and right, and keys player Mike Solomon fills the mix with excellent countermelodies and some beautiful solo bits. Interestingly enough, these guys actually sport a glockenspiel player—Michael Nixdorf—who doubles on percussion with drummer Neil Scalese.

Photos by: Hurricane of Lions Photography
The Long Island-based indie/pop sextet brings us an imaginative and memorable set of songs with their debut album, Terror and Everything After. We begin with “Barnaby Bison’s Blind,” which hits us immediately with heavy rockin’ riffs and catchy vocals—very enjoyable. “Noah” shows their lighter side and features well-written vocal harmonies, and “Bad Canterbury” is a well-structured song with great buildups, a memorable chorus, and Estrada’s exciting vocals.
If you’re looking for more fast-paced or hard-driving songs, you’ll enjoy the bass-heavy, grooving triplet-feel track “Winchester Devil Grass;” the slow, heavy-hitting, and slightly creepy “Ghosts in the Basement;” the almost-out-of-control “Weather Maps for Nikolai;” or the multi-section title track, “Terror and Everything After.” And if you want to really take it down a notch, “Forging the Family Name” is a beautiful transition featuring solo piano by Solomon.

What nobody can deny about Hotel and the Laughing Tree’s Terror and Everything After is both the creative and carefully selected/mixed instrumentals. There is not only a ton of variety in the parts, but there was definitely huge attention to detail in creating a unique production value to each of the songs and adding parts for real color, not just filler. The songwriting is, as I said, very creative yet does not bore the casual listener who just wants to hear a great single with an awesome hook.
Overall, I’m extremely impressed at the quality of this debut album—I know we’re going to see a lot of great stuff from these boys in the future.

You can purchase this album at the iTunes store.
Terror and Everything After Track Listing:
01) Barnaby Bison’s Blind
02) Another Harvard Renaissance
03) Gods Great Gumball Machine
04) Noah
05) Winchester Devil Grass
06) Weather Maps for Nikolai
07) Sanctuary
08) Gunpowder Falls
09) Bad Canterbury
10) Forging the Family Name
11) Mont St. Michael
12) Ghosts in the Basement
13) Terror and Everything After
14) Lazarus
For more information on Hotel of the Laughing Tree:
http://hotelofthelaughingtree.wordpress.com/
Jordan Bell is a PR manager for an LA-based music company, and is a freelance writer, publicist, recording engineer, and classically-trained singer. - LA Music Blog


"CD Review: Hotel of the Laughing Tree "Old Dominion""

..."This is an excellent work from a band that sounds like they have no place to go but up. It’s a subtle album that houses moments of heartbreak and elation, and even though it plays fast at only eight tracks, Hotel of the Laughing Tree have introduced themselves to the scene, and hopefully what comes next will have them here to stay for good." - http://www.mycrazymusicblog.com/


"Absolutepunk.net CD Review."

As a whole, for a band that has been together for nor even a year, Old Dominion is an exceptional release. While there is all sorts of variety, they still manage to have a multitude of catchy hooks and leads that add replay value. I have to say that Hotel of the Laughing Tree is a must-listen for any The Dear Hunter or The Receiving End of Sirens fans. With some more experience and time together, people should be keeping an eye out for Hotel of the Laughing Tree. - Caryjs, www.absolutepunk.net


"MTV’S WOODIE AWARDS: BEST MUSIC ON CAMPUS WINNERS"

Just a year ago, AJ Estrada was busy rounding up a ragtag mix of musicians in hopes of forming a band. He and his friends were just like the thousands of other college kids out there, uploading tunes to MySpace and dreaming of making it big. They don’t have to dream anymore—not after walking onstage in front of a mass of celebrities and big-time bands to collect their Best Music on Campus trophy at the mtvU Woodie Awards.

The Long Island-based Hotel of the Laughing Tree kept company with the likes of Death Cab for Cutie, Kings of Leon, Matt & Kim, Green Day and 30H!3 at the sixth annual mtvU awards bash. During filming on November 18 at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City, the college band walked away $5,000 richer and with a songwriting deal for a new MTV show. They even walked away with the trophy, which turned out to be a big no-no.

“We took it back to our seats even though we weren’t supposed to apparently,” said Estrada, a senior graphic design major at Suffolk County Community College. “And they took it away from us. I guess they mail it to you.”

Despite the trophy faux pas, Hotel of the Laughing Tree will remember this year’s mtvU Woodie Awards as one of the most incredible, surreal experiences of their lives.

“There were celebrities everywhere, and we were just like dropped in the middle of it,” said lead singer, sax, guitars and keys player Estrada. “We were basically freaking out the whole time.”

When Hotel of the Laughing Tree arrived at the awards show, they had no idea they’d be leaving with a prize. The band had been narrowed down as one of the top two contestants after voting finished on www.bestmusiconcampus.com. They sat next to fellow contenders Oh, The Story! as they waited to find out which band would nab the judges’ approval and own the Best Music on Campus title.

“The thought in my mind the whole time was, even if we don’t win, it’s just really awesome to be here,” Estrada said. “I kind of wish both of us could have won. They were really cool guys.”

With the inclusion of a glockenspiel player and a bassist who doubles as a foot-shuffling dancer, it’s no wonder Hotel of the Laughing Tree caught voters’—and the judges’—attention.

“I think especially from where we are, some people and some bands try to be different, and they may think they’re going out there and being something completely new, and it’s just following the same type of stuff that all the other bands do,” Estrada said. “We just try to stay as far away from that as possible. And I think we’re doing a good job.”

Hotel of the Laughing Tree is a self-described “artistic pop-rock” group. They released their first EP, Old Dominion, in August, and iTunes users have given them rave reviews, with one predicting they’re “going to be right up there with Brand New, Taking Back Sunday and Envy on the Coast.”

Estrada said the band is influenced by “everything…we listen to so much different stuff.” Some of his personal favorites are Andrew Bird, Fleet Foxes, As Tall as Lions and Radiohead.

The group’s quirky name came from a short story Estrada began in high school and never completed. Perhaps it remains unfinished because he’s been spending so much time penning song lyrics.

“I just kind of write whatever is going on in my life at the moment,” Estrada said. “Everybody throws in their input when we go to record.”

Speaking of recording, the band will head to Nashville in January to put the finishing touches on their first full-length CD. Then they plan on hitting the open road for a tour down the East Coast and maybe across the West.
- Stephanie Ostroff, College Magazine


"Absolute 100 Description"

Sometimes you can hear the fire burning, and with Hotel, that is the case. With enough originality to pique the ear but still tempered by a serious knack for melody, these guys keep the flame going strong throughout their new 8-track EP. One song doesn't do justice to their diversity, so stream the entire EP. - Garett Press, www.absolutepunk.net


"Hotel of the Laughing Tree - Old Dominion Review"

Hotel Of The Laughing Tree means serious business when it comes to honing in on earnest words and heat-seeking melodies. Whether it’s the folksy fretwork or the spot-on drumming, this group knows how to get things done and this EP is an excellent example of that. Keeping everything together with a solid indie-rock sound proves to be no problem on Old Dominion, as things go from toe-tapping to sing-along worthy and back. Don’t underestimate this EP for even a minute.

“Hello World” starts out with subtle tones behind the slightly raspy vocals of AJ Estrada, slowly adding ingredients to the recipe while building a lush sound throughout the track. “Giants In Dimly Lit Rooms” employs a minimal back-beat to get things started, but blends the folksy jams into a crunchy attack that can’t be stopped. A waltzy intro to “Sunday Squires” grabs your attention as the soothing vocals and spacey fretwork creeps in for a foot-stomping good time, giving each instrument a chance to shine during its four-minute running time. The fretwork gets woven in a variety of ways on this EP, as “Sunday Squires” shows just in those few minutes, and as “Arts ‘N Economics” further proves. The latter even throws in some saxophones for good measure on a down-and-dirty bridge melody.

A sugary, bouncy melody laden with percussion anchors “A Sigh In The Juniper House,” which is a fun track with noodling guitars hidden among the catchiest track of the bunch. “Mourning Glory” takes a little while to get started with echoed vocals and haunting guitar-work. When the big hits come in, the track turns into a wall of sound with background vocals and drums filling up most of your headphones. The disc ends with “Lowlands 1887,” a track that starts with infectious fretwork that morphs into a twangy, yet addictive folk tune. It finishes with an attack of puzzle pieces showcasing thundering drums and crafty guitars for a showcase in musicianship that leaves no doubt in your mind that this band can rock.

You can bet that with a proper full-length on the way this band will find a way to ride this wave of impressive musicianship into a healthy amount of buzz in the next year or so. Be sure to give this EP a decent chance, as there is much to be impressed by with Old Dominion. - Jason Gardner, Revolt Magazine


"HOTEL OF THE LAUGHING TREE"

THE STORY SO FAR: With a sound that seems inherently Southern, it's kind of amazing that indie outfit Hotel Of The Laughing Tree hail from Long Island, New York. Of course, the three original members--vocalist/multi-instrumentalist A.J. Estrada, guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Brandon Peterson and drummer Neil Scalesse--did make the trip to Nashville, Tennessee, last May to record their debut EP, Old Dominion. When they returned, they enlisted bassist Anthony Arma and multi-instrumentalist Mike Nixdorf.

WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW 'EM: HOTLT tap into the sort of vintage, offbeat epics that the Dear Hunter play, but with a sound that's wholly original. "We all have our own influences and it shows," says Scalesse. "We work hard to keep our sound fresh." Their efforts aren't going unnoticed. The band recently took home the "Best Music On Campus" trophy at the mtvU Woodie Awards, but it doesn't mean they'll be coasting from here out. "We like to keep challenging ourselves," says Scalesse.
- Tim Karan, Alternative Press Magazine


"Hotel of the Laughing Tree - Old Dominion Review"

Hotel Of The Laughing Tree means serious business when it comes to honing in on earnest words and heat-seeking melodies. Whether it’s the folksy fretwork or the spot-on drumming, this group knows how to get things done and this EP is an excellent example of that. Keeping everything together with a solid indie-rock sound proves to be no problem on Old Dominion, as things go from toe-tapping to sing-along worthy and back. Don’t underestimate this EP for even a minute.

“Hello World” starts out with subtle tones behind the slightly raspy vocals of AJ Estrada, slowly adding ingredients to the recipe while building a lush sound throughout the track. “Giants In Dimly Lit Rooms” employs a minimal back-beat to get things started, but blends the folksy jams into a crunchy attack that can’t be stopped. A waltzy intro to “Sunday Squires” grabs your attention as the soothing vocals and spacey fretwork creeps in for a foot-stomping good time, giving each instrument a chance to shine during its four-minute running time. The fretwork gets woven in a variety of ways on this EP, as “Sunday Squires” shows just in those few minutes, and as “Arts ‘N Economics” further proves. The latter even throws in some saxophones for good measure on a down-and-dirty bridge melody.

A sugary, bouncy melody laden with percussion anchors “A Sigh In The Juniper House,” which is a fun track with noodling guitars hidden among the catchiest track of the bunch. “Mourning Glory” takes a little while to get started with echoed vocals and haunting guitar-work. When the big hits come in, the track turns into a wall of sound with background vocals and drums filling up most of your headphones. The disc ends with “Lowlands 1887,” a track that starts with infectious fretwork that morphs into a twangy, yet addictive folk tune. It finishes with an attack of puzzle pieces showcasing thundering drums and crafty guitars for a showcase in musicianship that leaves no doubt in your mind that this band can rock.

You can bet that with a proper full-length on the way this band will find a way to ride this wave of impressive musicianship into a healthy amount of buzz in the next year or so. Be sure to give this EP a decent chance, as there is much to be impressed by with Old Dominion. - Jason Gardner, Revolt Magazine


Discography

Mammoth Skin Pt. 1 (2012)
1. Make Waves
2. People That We Please
3. Flowers and Lawyers
4. Waterfall Games
5. Brotherly Thunder

Terror and Everything After (2011):
1. Barnaby Bison’s Blind
2. Another Harvard Renaissance
3. God's Great Gumball Machine
4. Noah
5. Winchester Devil Grass
6. Weather Maps for Nikolai
7. Sanctuary
8. Gunpowder Falls
9. Bad Canterbury
10. Forging the Family Name
11. Mont St. Michel
12. Ghosts in the Basement
13. Terror and Everything After
14. Lazarus

Old Dominion EP (2009):
1. Hello World
2. Giants in Dimly Lit Rooms
3. Sunday Squires
4. Old Dominion
5. Arts N' Economics
6. A Sigh in the Juniper House
7. Mourning Glory
8. Lowlands 1887

Photos

Bio

Hotel of the Laughing Tree is an indie/rock/pop from Long Island, New York that has been on a steady climb since the band's inception in late 2008. In August 2009 Hotel self-released their debut EP "Old Dominion" with producer Joshua Silverberg at Red Red Studios. After releasing the EP, Hotel took home MTVu's Best Music on Campus Award at the 6th Annual MTVu Woodie Awards at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City.

In January 2010, Hotel was featured in Alternative Press Magazine as the Unsigned Band of the Week; a competition that Hotel would not be eligible for the following year after being signing to indie label Brookvale Records in August 2010. Together, Brookvale and Hotel released the band's debut full length album "Terror and Everything After" in February 2011. Hotel reached the #1 Breakout Album and the #3 Independent Artist slots in Terror's first week of sales on the CIMS Sales Charts (Independent Music stores nationwide). Terror was also present on the StreetPulse and SoundScan charts. This attention landed Hotel in March 2011's issue of Alternative Press as one of the Top Bands You Need to Know for 2011 as well as other publications such as Substream, Rolling Stone, and AbsolutePunk.

Consistent work on writing new material and solidifying their live show have Hotel ready to make huge strides in the coming years. So often the problem with bands is that they lose their drive to continue in the face of tremendous odds of "making it" in an industry that has been flipped on its head. To the members of Hotel of the Laughing Tree it's never been about anything else other than simply making music they love.

Hotel of the Laughing Tree released a digital free download of their latest work, an EP entitled "Mammoth Skin Pt. 1." This low-key, stripped down EP did not provide the same glamour as their previous release, Terror and Everything After. However, it provided a "return to roots" for the band, and a new philosophy of concentrating on musical growth rather than the fickle demands of the ever-changing industry. With a clearer idea of what they desire to achieve, Hotel of the Laughing Tree continue on their journey.

Band Members