Press "Enter" to skip to content

The Elms-The Chess Hotel

Band Name: The Elms
Album Name: The Chess Hotel
Best Element: Catchy rhythms
Genre: Indie Rock
Label Name: Universal South
Band E-mail:

In a scene littered with indie-rock acts, there are exceptions which break through the typical power-chord strumming, drum-pounding mold, proving that there is more to a band then playing a few notes and repeating the same lyrics. At the end of the day, the one item truly needed is chemistry. The Elms make it clear that the long-term friendship between members can only tighten up the loose bolts in their music.

This album is a first for the Elms. Their need to follow a more classic rock sound led them to outgrow their former label, the all-Christian Sparrow, and move on to create their debut LP for Universal South. These four twenty-something musicians, hailing from Seymour, Indiana, have transformed their long-awaited album into a description of life in a small town.

The Chess Hotel is deeply rooted in classic rock acts like The Kinks and contemporaries like Oasis. The album exerts a very tight, pulled-together feeling as each track offers up its purpose. The album opens with “I Am the World,” a track that can only truly be heard when the speakers are turned all the way up. “I Am the World” sends the cookie cutter, yet still emotional, “don’t waste your life away because it is now or never” theme. Perhaps some of the lyrics come across as “angsty,” but that only makes the focus of the album more defined. The title track is a blatant look into Seymour’s downtown aura, while completely contrasting any dull, small town sense with screeching guitars and lyrics being yelled by Thomas. As the album progresses, it becomes more thoughtful, ending with the soft acoustic “I’ve Been Wrong,” which lyrically sounds like a depressing apology to their peers who are stuck with dead-end jobs in their hometown.

The Elms’ new album shines musically and lyrically, giving these friends room to grow their rock and roll roots into successful future albums. The entire sound and feel of the album simply reeks of chemistry, both with the four band members and of their relationship with the town itself.

-Mark Pranger