Think classical and rock don’t mix? How about classical, rock, orchestras, and xylophones? Got your attention? Good. Because Hotpress for Leopold has all that…and more. Formed by a composer named Omar after a happy accident left him with a huge budget and lots of time on his hands, the band is essentially a misfit orchestra of brass, string, and that ever present xylophone lurking in the background. The result is debut album that isn’t so serious so much as it doesn’t take itself seriously. And that is ok.
From the upbeat, Disney-fied “Can’t Stop the Bomb” to the wry but funny love ballad “Torturer (Rock Mix),” this is a record that takes silly to a whole new level. With a backup cast of studio musicians that bring to mind the best of classic rock, and original, spirited lyrics by Omar himself, this is like the grade school musical your fifth grade teacher would’ve produced, if your fifth grade teacher had talent. Witness “Fish Market” and “I I I I Me Me Me Me,” two experimental tunes that seem oddly out of place for a cheery album, but seem to work on an emotional and musical level.
Some would say that camp of the sort featured on Hotpress for Leopold have no place in music. But drama has always been intertwined with the musical tradition dating back to Tin Pan Alley, and you know what? It seems to work. Besides, where else can you find a single about cocaine alongside dewy sweet exclamations of love? It’s not for everyone, but then again, what is? Well, maybe Top 40.
At $8.99, Hotpress for Leopold is perfect for the subversive musician/composer in all of us.