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Dark Horse Flyer | Hotel Paradise

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United States - Florida

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Rock: Classic Rock Blues: Blues-Rock Moods: Featuring Guitar
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Hotel Paradise

by Dark Horse Flyer

The 11-song album recalls Royal Scam-era Steely Dan soundtracking a fresh collection of Elmore Leonard crime fiction set in the balmy environs of South Florida - wry, witty, and boiling over with a pulp literacy.
Genre: Rock: Classic Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Breezin'
3:11 album only
2. Coconut Jive
3:53 album only
3. High Five
5:41 album only
4. Monroe County Line
3:02 album only
5. Out of Time
3:44 album only
6. South Miami Midnight
4:38 album only
7. Mambo Mama
4:46 album only
8. You Don't Play Nice
3:24 album only
9. A Car with Fins
4:02 album only
10. Highway 27
3:55 album only
11. If I Could Get You Alone
7:41 album only


Album Notes
Critically acclaimed classic rock band Dark Horse Flyer emerged in 2014 like prisoners of war miraculously returning home from an ill-fated musical mission. Their story is akin to being shot down and taken hostage by the whims of the bloated beast of the 1970s music industry.

Don Mularz and Scott Lane returned victorious from 40 lost years with a visceral, critically acclaimed Southern rock gem, Breakaway. The album had the chops of Steely Dan and the brawn of the Allman Brothers. Though the South Florida-based sextet played a handful of select shows, Dark Horse Flyer’s accolades in tastemaking jam band and classic rock music outlets piqued the interest of fans looking for taut burly grooves and dazzling musicianship. Now, DHF returns with a slinky follow-up, Hotel Paradise. The album brims with sophisticated, accessible hooks, funky and intuitive ensemble musicianship, and playful literate noir vignettes.

The 11-song album recalls Royal Scam-era Steely Dan soundtracking a fresh collection of Elmore Leonard crime fiction set in the balmy environs of South Florida. The lyrics are wry, witty, and boiling over with a pulp literacy that calls to mind the irreverence of Fagan and Becker only because of DHF’s gifts making the seedy feel urbane.

Hotel Paradise, like it’s predecessor, opens with an instrumental that sets the tone of album. Whereas DHF’s debut roars ashore with “Hurricane”—a song that with tightly orchestrated bravado announces “we’re back”—Hotel Paradise leads off with the Tropical “Breezin’.” With nothing more to prove, the boys saunter in for their sophomore effort with an assured jazz-blues lyrical virtuosity that recalls Robben Ford. The track casts aside the puffed chest musicianship of yore. In its place is a frisky and refined groove rock detailed with laidback cool virtuosity courtesy of a frontline of two lead guitarists and a keyboardist nonchalantly trading solo passages.

DHF’s aesthetic harkens back to the narrative art of album sequencing. “Breezin’” aptly sets the stage for the next four jams: “Coconut Jive,” “High Five,” “Monroe County Line,” and “Out of Time.” Unlike Breakaway, which was something of a relationship album, Hotel Paradise is rife with low-key drama imbued with dark humor that lends it a picaresque charm.

“Coconut Jive” features DHF lead vocalist/guitarist/principle songwriter Don Mularz cast alongside returning DHF backing vocalist Beth Cohen (who has also been employed by Barbra Streisand, Pink, Julio Iglesias, Kelly Clarkson, Barry Gibb, and is currently an official member of Boston) in a bar pickup scene where the male protagonist stumbles with each one-liner he tries strutting out. The track features stunning solo spots cleverly tucked into a no-fat song-oriented arrangement. Here, soloists Don Mularz, guitar, John Tillman, guitar, and keyboardist Bob Taylor sneak in blistering solos overflowing with jazz-rock ingenuity and bluesy mojo. Taylor, however, steals the show with his feature that feels like it’s beamed from outer space and the mind of Victor Feldman while he was playing that wonderfully fractured vibraphone solo on Steely Dan’s “Everyone’s Gone To The Movies.”

One of the revelations of Hotel Paradise is a revival of the lost art of the groove dialogue where each musician’s part fits snuggly together for a conversation in rhythm. This has given rhythm guitarist Scott Lane more elbowroom, and he emerges as a powerful voice with a large vocabulary of slick R&B and soul licks. His distinct playing is featured prominently on his collaboration with Mularz, “High Five.” The track sketches out a scene in a late night piano bar haunted by broken dreams, poor life choices, and bad luck. Instead of being a weepy ballad, DHF score the tragedy with biting humor and glistening R&B punctuated by horns—a new flavor for DHF. The song opens with the stinging lyric: I used to see you walking home from school/all by your lonesome as a general rule so sad, but kids can be so cruel/things are different now, you’ve made the scene you’re on the cover of some magazine/I knew you when, but this is oh so now.

Like a book of short stories, up next is another waggish tale. “Monroe County Line” unfolds in a similar spirited R&B-infused jazz-rock musical backdrop as “High Five,” but here the drama goes criminal. The narrative careens wildly through a mystery thriller landscape familiar to readers of Carl Hiassen and James T. Hall novels. The song’s main character is a smalltime drug smuggler who gets embroiled in a very sour deal. As a well-placed respite from the excitement, the song is followed by the balmy and reflective “Out Of Time.”

The second half of the record bursts forth with “South Miami Midnight” which proves DHF can easily muster the Southern rock firepower they strutted on Breakaway. But there is a freshness to the six-piece group visiting familiar territory—the songs simmer versus boiling over. There is a level of finesse and not breaking a sweat in the performance. Don Mularz’s vocals have a detached cool flow that is masterfully combined with female gospel backup vocals for heightened dynamics.

Standouts in the second installment of Hotel Paradise are “A Car With Fins,” “Highway 27,” and the moody “If I Could Get You Alone.” Political commentary takes center stage on “A Car With Fins.” In this setting, Mularz slyly takes a “things ain’t what they used to be” stance that’s relatable to all parties. The track also has a special distinction in that it features a nice surprise of growley slide guitar that conjures a swampy Live At The Fillmore-era Allman Brothers.

The blue hues continue on “Highway 27” which boasts guest harmonica player Robbie Dupree—the singer-songwriter best known for the 1980 smash, “Steal Away.” In this context, the blues is a real feeling—Highway 27 runs north and south, dividing Florida in more ways than one. The song serves as a metaphor for the chasm its main character feels between what he always wanted in his life, and the nightmare he’s living. The album concludes with the seductive ballad “If I Could Get You Alone.” It’s DHF’s first recorded slow song, and they turn in an imaginative arrangement that takes an unexpected twist—without spoiling the ending, jam band fans will froth over when they hear the song’s full evolution.

The album was recorded Big Pink style with the guys holed up together at The Clubhouse Studio in Rhinebeck, New York. In a mere seven days, they tracked the album with Mularz producing and Lane executive producing, just like on the previous album. This time communal living and the benefits of a strict band practice regimen made for vibrant and organic performances. Basics were cut live, and solos were often flashes of brilliance delivered as off the cuff overdubs. The only drama outside of the tight recording deadline was a power outage that forced the horn section to record with candles and the low rumble of the generator powering the Pro Tools rig. The final touch on the album was put on by mastering engineer icon Bernie Grundman under the watchful eye of Mularz and Lane.

Hotel Paradise is the Tropical party after the mission. It’s a twisted celebration after an arduous journey. The war is over—it doesn’t matter who won—it’s time to unwind deep in the underbelly of the city trying to get, well, you know. . .



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