Mark Curdo - Portland Daily Sun After putting his massively underappreciated band Cosades to bed too soon, Kyle Gervais was done with music. He planned to go to school and work and not allow the promise of making successful music waste any more of his time. It didn't take long for Gervais to dump those foolish safety plans and get back to what he was born to do in this world: front a band. All-ages favorites Alias Grace were over before they really got started. The band's CD release show was their last show, and it was even billed that way. Their CDs were not sold, but given away at that show. Unlike Gervais, members of Alias Grace had plans to move onward immediately after the demise of their band. Three members, Glen Capen, Jason Elvin and Aaron Lachance, stayed a tight unit and eventually opened the door for Gervais to come and jam and see if they all could put together a band that would exist after their CD release show. So far, so good. Their release show has happened and they're still in one piece. Grand Hotel's self-titled debut is a solid start. Indie pop rock numbers for those who want to dance a little. Just as the record starts to feel cool and tricky it quickly lays you out on a groove to keep things from getting too stuffy. The Franz Ferdinand-ish "Visual" goes from sneaky to all out butt swaying and you won't even notice 'cause you're floating on one of the bounciest bass lines of the year. The great thing about Grand Hotel is in songs like "Visual," where Kyle Gervais' pop music love gets to shine through unlike ever before. The rest of the band back it up so well, too. Gervais has a one-take style of vocals that keeps the feel real every time and it continues with Grand Hotel. I don't know the exact age of all of the members of Grand Hotel, but my guess is they probably aren't old enough to be making music this mature. They're younger cats who luckily don't have to worry about being stuck in the all-ages circuit. They can play to rooms with or without bars. Regardless, I would dare anyone in either room to stand still for an entire set. This self-titled record is infectious and the beginning of something really cool in local music. Portland Daily Sun Mark Curdo Ain't Life Grand Sam Pfeifle Portland Pheonix Bands come and go. Especially local ones. The money's not great, personalities clash, young and single people tend to move around a lot. Kyle Gervais with Cosades had a band a lot of us in Portland will remember for a long time, but they broke up last year for the reasons that bands break up. Alias Grace were a band only a few of us even knew about. They formed, put out an album that showed great promise in the summer of 2008, and then broke up. Now we have Grand Hotel, featuring Alias Grace guitarist Glen Capen, bassist Jason Elvin, and drummer Aaron Lachance, fronted by Gervais, putting out a debut EP this weekend. Is this a band you can dare to fall in love with? Maybe they're a one-night stand, but you'll forever think about what could have been; maybe they'll put a ring on your finger. If you pass like two ships in the night, you'd be missing out. Gervais's talent continues to be unmistakable, with a rare ability to channel raw emotion and induce empathy, and Capen, Elvin, and Lachance combine to back him with a rippling, edgy, nerve-y kind of rock that's captured well by emerging producer Noah Cole (the Cambiata). Their six-song self-titled debut can be bleak and morose, but there are bright, shining moments of melodic hope, soaring instrumental bridges and hook-filled choruses. 'Visual' has a whomping '80s vamp in the open, like the Killers if they were from this cold and gritty place instead of Las Vegas. And just as you're digging on the verse, they shift into an a capella shout: 'Why can't a love be only visual?' It's a thrilling transition that makes the 3:29-long song seem terribly short. This is a band that know they can get away with being a little crazed and disturbed, without being all that heavy, just working with sharp edges and brittle melodies that seem like they could crack at any time. 'Footsteps' is bass-heavy and adds a cello: 'I've been wasting my time trying to hear your voice again.' After an electric wash of an instrumental break, Gervais comes back really pained, 'you feel so far away,' and I actually care. The song plods and lurches, Lachance here, as elsewhere, both time-keeping and keeping the listener off-kilter. 'Ride the Light' is a classic drugs-and-girls rock tune (not surprising considering Cosades' A Lack of Heroine) with that indie-rock two-note cycling up and down the fretboard and a late-song devolution into drunken, f***ed-up crescendos. 'You know I like the chemicals,' Gervais sings in a high tenor, with deeper backing vocals for body. 'I got a habit for staring and I'm drooling girl'; 'I feel your mind just breaking.' Sounds like a recipe for a tumultuous relationship.