Recording information: The Cooler.
Hey, kids remember new wave? It seems unlikely that Host had much contact with the stuff when it was happening in the late '70s and early '80s, but they conjured up its risen ghost with eerie familiarity on their first and only album, 2004's Minimum Listening Guarantee. Fast and angular songs with lots of hooks, choppy guitar figures, vintage synth lines laid over the top like chocolate syrup, declamatory vocal parts with scrappy harmonies that could have come off the first two XTC albums -- they're all here on Minimum Listening Guarantee, and while the individual elements are pretty familiar to anyone who lived through the first era of college radio, Host also brought an energy and excitement to the music that strips away any suspicions that these guys were on some sort of retro trip. "All Over Again," "Decisions" and "Not a Test" are bracing and joyous stuff, smart without being pretentious and challenging without being obscure for its own sake, and Host played these songs with a taut, punky drive that thankfully doesn't obscure how great these melodies are. Within a year of the release of Minimum Listening Guarantee, Host split up, making it all but certain this album would be destined to the fate of a lost classic, but this is still 31 minutes of great nervy rock & roll, and should these guys ever decide to give the music biz another chance, they'll already have a superb calling card on hand with this disc. ~ Mark Deming