Hour sets up for something grand on "Hallmark" - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

There’s no Philly band quite like the “instrumental ensemble” Hour and their fittingly titled new single “Hallmark” offers both a reminder and a preview of their unique sonic style. The track begins with calming, repetitive piano and strings tuning up for something grand. Yet the song is typically understated, with gorgeously clean guitar and graceful drumming fleshing out the sound. It’s a patient, understated track that washes over you slowly conjuring a variety of moods and feelings – joy, introspection, yearning, heartbreak – yet unbeholden to any one emotion.

The song feels homey and familial, perhaps due to its heartwarming origins: a Mother’s Day present from Michael Cormier-O’Leary to his mother. The accompanying music video, directed by Cormier-O’Leary, is appropriately intimate – though the band speaks of some grand cinematic influences. Inspired by Wong-Kar Wai and imagining if “Hal Hartley had directed a fucked up version of Babette’s Feast,” Cormier-O’Leary creates a self-described “stately elegance that’s completely at odds with the low-budget aesthetic.” We follow a lonely man wearing a Kate Bush tee and carrying a six-pack of Miller Lite ambling into his apartment to bake a frozen pizza – so far, so ordinary. Yet as soon as he leaves the room, a group of people clad in all-black rearrange his dinner table and take everything – including a bag of weed sneakily titled Anemone Red (the title of Hour’s second album.)

“Hallmark” offers a preview of Ease the Work, Hour’s third album which Dear Life Records will release on April 12th. Fans have been waiting for new music since Hour released its first two projects in 2018 but the latest promises something special, both carefully composed and freely improvisatory. Back in early 2023, Cormier-O’Leary and a crew of nine musicians traveled by ferry with a slew of instruments to record on Maine’s Peaks Island. Despite an early power-outage, the group completed the new record, which draws from a wide array of influences: Bill Frissell, Sinatra, Scott Walker, Eiko Ishibashi, and many more.

The band just began a tour leading up to the record’s release with a performance at New York’s Williamsburg Opera House. They will continue to perform across the country with opener Joe Pera and return home to Philly just in time for an exciting release show. On April 12th, you can catch them at PhilaMOCA along with More Eaze and Echotracer — tickets and information at the WXPN Concert Calendar. They’ll be playing another release show on April 12th at The Owl in Brooklyn along with More Eaze, Justin Felton, and Ryan El Solh. Check out the video for “Hallmark” and find tour dates from the band below.

Hour - Hallmark

Tour Dates
Mar 09 Cincinnati, OH – DSGN CLLCTV
Mar 10 Louisville, KY – B-Side
Mar 11 St. Louis, MO – William A. Kerr Foundation
Mar 12 Columbia, MO – Cafe Berlin
Mar 13 Fayetteville, AR – Trillium Salon Series
Mar 15 Austin, TX – Dear Life Records SXSW Showcase
Mar 16 Austin, TX – Biscuit Press
Mar 17 Dripping Springs, TX – Chill Phases
Mar 19 Nashville, TN – Random Sample
Mar 20 Boone, NC – Lily’s Snack Bar
Mar 21 Greenville, SC – Cabin Floor Records
Mar 22 Durham, NC – Perfect Lovers
Mar 23 Takoma Park, MD – Perfect Lovers
May 15 Keene, NH – The Thing in the Spring
Apr 12 Philadelphia, PA @ PhilaMOCA w/ More Eaze, Echotracer (Ease the Work release show)
Apr 13 Brooklyn, NY @ The Owl w/ More Eaze, Justin Felton & Ryan El Solh (Ease the Work release show)
May 15 Keene, NH – The Thing in the Spring

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