Hozier Tiny Desk Concert
March 11, 2015 4:49 PM   Subscribe

Hozier is plugged into the big thing that connects us all. This is smoking hot. A unique and intelligent singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who cites James Joyce's Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, Leonard Cohen, John Lee Hooker, and community choral singing among his influences, Hozier (his stage and performing name) was born Andrew Hozier-Byrne on March 17, 1990 in Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland.

The son of a local blues musician, he literally grew up with the blues being played all around him. He joined his first band when he was 15, gravitating toward R&B, soul, gospel, and, of course, blues. Hozier started studying for a degree in music at Trinity College Dublin, where he was involved with the Trinity Orchestra, but dropped out in his first year to record demos for Universal Music. From 2009 to 2012, he sang with Anúna, an Irish choral group, and toured internationally.
posted by bobdow (25 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Needs the "hozier" tag.

Huge fan of the Tiny Desk concerts. Always a great performance!
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:03 PM on March 11, 2015

Very, very nice. I dig his playing style very much; it's very traditional but, at the same time, it belongs to him.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:19 PM on March 11, 2015

Here's Hozier performing La Chanson de Mardi Gras with Anúna, which is different from his bluesy solo work obviously, but still a lovely showcase for his remarkable voice.

And one of my other favorite performances of his, from the Newport Folk Festival: Work Song. A bunch of his songs have this beautifully timeless feel, where you're almost certain they have to be covers of old standards or classics.
posted by yasaman at 5:44 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

My 2.5 year old daughter sings along with the chorus to "Take Me To Church" when it comes on in the car. She doesn't really understand the lyrics but she loves singing the big notes. And I can totally understand why; it's probably the most compelling song in heavy rotation on the local adult alternative stations. An artist in this day and age succeeding on raw vocal chops is certainly not what I've come to expect from the music industry, but curveballs are pretty much welcome at this point.
posted by graymouser at 6:13 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've heard him a few times -- Graham Norton, Grammys with Annie Lennox, a song and a half here -- and the takeaway is always the same: dude has no soul. He's a flash in the pan. What's the appeal? I just don't get it.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 6:22 PM on March 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

posted by standardasparagus at 7:22 PM on March 11, 2015

I personally wouldn't go as far as "flash in the pan," but I have yet to hear a song of his that compares to the emotional power of Take Me to Church. The rest sounds like decent white blues-rock by a relatively young guy who has great potential.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:29 PM on March 11, 2015

To be fair, the performance at the Grammys was about Annie Lennox, not Hozier. At least one other performance shows not only some singing chops (a little bumpy at the start), but a warm camaraderie with the audience.

Give the guy some time, and a fair chance.
posted by datawrangler at 7:33 PM on March 11, 2015

This is just about exactly what I don't like.

But he is good at it, and I don't begrudge all the people who like it.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:37 PM on March 11, 2015

Youshouldseetheotherguy: you are so, sooo wrong that you almost circle around again and become right. I have listened to all the vids I could find on youtube, became a huge fan, then saw him in concert on Monday and was even more blown away. He can sing, powerfully, with a beautiful tone quality, and on pitch, live, which in itself is a rare feature these days. He's also a phenomenal songwriter, including of songs like Run that don't appear on the American version of the album. He's a solid blues guitarist. And possibly most important of all, he connects with his fans both in concert and personally like few other artists. You are entitled to your (wrong) opinion about his artistic appeal, but he will factually be no flash in the pan or one hit wonder. Barring tragedy, you will be hearing about him for many, many years to come and he will be a fixture of the musical landscape of his generation. I will take any monetary bet you care to make about that.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 10:32 PM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

For a flash in the pan I've sure been listening to him for years now... The TV performances I've seen are a bad indicator of his live appeal, he's not really a stadium performer. Thrilled he's getting some attention at last and just hope it translates into lots of new work and continued smaller venue performances.
posted by Iteki at 11:01 PM on March 11, 2015

I was particularly taken by this short video of him talking about 'Take Me To Church' and it's video.
posted by averysmallcat at 11:12 PM on March 11, 2015

That was some nice trolling. I would love to know who, in your opinion, has soul.
posted by GrapeApiary at 5:52 AM on March 12, 2015

he will be a fixture of the musical landscape of his generation. I will take any monetary bet you care to make about that.

The kid has some real talent which he's managed to employ making a bombastic, overwrought tune where he *really* goes against the grain by suggesting that those church peoples have it all wrong and sex is Teh Bomb.

Promising, I guess. But "Fixture," huh?

There are songwriters who've done better on the same topic that most people have never heard of. Hell, Sting did it better with "Sacred Love" (oh, I can't wait for the responses to that, but it's as true as any other argument anyone's made here).

Maybe he'll grow up and do better. Maybe like a lot of artists it won't matter even if he does and the world will move on.

Make a definition of "fixture" that someone could actually objectively assess and I might well see how many figures (starting at 3) you're willing to back that rhetoric about bets up with.
posted by weston at 11:18 AM on March 12, 2015

I think that's an unfairly simplistic reading of "Take Me to Church." (I'll grant you overwrought though.) Doleful Creature's comment here goes into a little depth about what's interesting about the song. The song isn't just some boo church yay sex thing (I mean, it's fairly tortured about the sex, for one thing ['you can sharpen your knife']), it's just the latest in a long, long line of works that marries or conflates sexual and religious ecstasy. It's fine if it's not to your taste, but there's a reason that genre of impassioned poetry has such staying power in the likes of Donne's work, Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," and Sufi poetry. And whatever else you can say about it, it's a pretty memorable song lyrics-wise, compared to the majority of contemporary pop.

I don't know if Hozier will become a huge star or not, but he's quite young yet for such an assured debut album, so I have high hopes.
posted by yasaman at 12:07 PM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

The theme is familiar to me and when it's done well it's very much to my taste, as I suspect it probably is for most humans. I prefer the hopeful side when I'm hopeful, but I appreciate some Cohen-like commiseration when I've recently crashed or don't want to get my hopes too far up.

The problem is that "boo church yay sex" is the readiest reading from TMTC, one well-supported by the bulk of the text. If it's trying to do more, that readiness is a flaw.

(If not... then well-executed, even if the premise is arguably flawed.)

I can see where Doleful Creature is coming from with the comparison to Cohen, and like all texts I think it's possible to read more from them with careful attention, but you put too much salt in the baked goods and you're gonna taste the salt first and foremost.
posted by weston at 1:06 PM on March 12, 2015

I really enjoy Hozier, as do my two year old daughter and my wife. I hope he has staying power, but am not going to get in a scrum about it.
I will say, though, that I made the mistake of watching what I believe is the official music video for Take Me to Church. It is gorgeous and beautifully made, and I'm glad they made it, but it's so so sad, and I was a little too emotionally raw when I saw it. I'm wildly ambivalent about recommending that anybody watch it, although "wildly ambivalent" is almost certainly redundant.
Wept like a baby!
posted by staccato signals of constant information at 1:12 PM on March 12, 2015

What's the appeal?

Asked honestly and not rhetorically, I think the appeal is that he's a good-looking guy with a nice voice, a talent for guitar, and something he's gotta say. He doesn't appeal to me too much—or at least what I've heard from him so far hasn't—but that's something that has had wide appeal, traditionally. Likewise, apparently people find the song's more traditional "rock" sound appealing. Nick Messitte, writer-on-music at Forbes, even uses the phrase "good old fashioned guitars" in his three page swoon* over the artist. Calling the song "one of the five most important pop hits of 2014," Messitte describes 'Take Me to Church' as " ... a song that finally brought real instruments, indie-darkness (as opposed to pop sheen) and scrappy, meaningful lyrics back to the pop charts ... " (I refuse to believe that Messitte isn't our very own Lovecraft In Brooklyn hiding under an assumed name.)

So there you go. Good-looking guy, nice voice, some talent, good old fashioned guitars, and earnest lyrics. That's the appeal.

(*And has there been a swoonier swoon since Brent DiCrescenzo reviewed Kid A?)
posted by octobersurprise at 1:57 PM on March 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

Brandon Flowers got soul. but he's not a soldier
posted by ostranenie at 9:45 PM on March 12, 2015

It's not rhetoric. If anyone cares to take me up on my offer, we can discuss the particulars via memail.

I find it disappointing that several folks seem to be basing their opinion of an artist on one "tune". Listen to the entire album, listen to various live versions of his songs and covers, and develop an informed opinion.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 10:18 PM on March 12, 2015

I concur with overwrought, but although I'm not a big fan of the released version of Take me to Church, I thought the almost-no-reverb version in the linked video was actually really great. Perhaps partly just the novelty of no reverb. I liked the second song a lot too.

Sometimes he telegraphs influences of songs a little too strongly though, like bits of Tool in the second song and that 3-note progression lifted from led zeppelin and sung JUST like Robert Plant in the third song.
posted by lastobelus at 10:51 PM on March 12, 2015

Sergei Polunin's epic ballet performance (directed by David LaChapelle) to Take Me to Church may convince you of its merits.
posted by domo at 7:10 AM on March 13, 2015

Hozier was the last band my mother recommended to me before her death. Mom had good taste in music.
posted by domo at 7:10 AM on March 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Listen to the entire album

Having listened to the entire album, I'm not more fond of 'Take Me to Church' than I was before. The guitar work on 'Like Real People Do' is lovely, tho, and I wish he'd do more of that sort of thing. Equally nice is the guitar at the start of 'To Be Alone' and 'From Eden' but I feel like those songs are ultimately marred by effects and bombast. As story-songs go, 'Angel of Small Death and The Codeine Scene' seems to work better than 'Take Me to Church." I like the bit of a Seger vibe I get from 'Foreigner's God' and it makes me want to hear him cover some old Seger or Jay Ferguson tunes. (I would also like to hear him cover 'Walking in Memphis.') Overall, I could wish that album was less bombastic and more hooky, or if just as bombastic then much more hooky. (I feel much the same way about Father John Misty.)
posted by octobersurprise at 12:43 PM on March 13, 2015

domo: Sergei Polunin's epic ballet performance (directed by David LaChapelle) to Take Me to Church may convince you of its merits.

Agreed. Will also convince you of the merits of seeing Polunin half-naked.
posted by averysmallcat at 1:46 PM on March 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

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