Saturday, February 14, 2009

SXSW Pick '09: The Black Hollies

(Reprinted from 3/2008 with minor changes and updated show times)

The Black Hollies

Casting Shadows
Ernest Jennings Records (US)/Rogue Records(Aus/NZ)

The Black Hollies are definitely psychedelic: Lots of garage fuzz guitar, echoes, distorted vocals, Indian influences, and a fair dose of phasing. Casting Shadows starts out with the Cream/Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd inspired “Whispers Beneath the Willows” is recognizable yet so different from anything you’ve heard in quite a while that it demands your attention. The follow up, “Paisley Pattern Ground” has a solid, soul dance beat, fuzz rhythm guitar, and echoed vocals from vocalist/bassist Justin Angelo Morey, with complimentary dual guitar phasing and jams that are loud and just long enough to be interesting without losing itself.

Other tracks like “The Autumn Chateau”, with it’s melody led by a sitar, courtesy of lead guitarist Herbert Joseph Wiley V, bring to mind “Paint It Black,” but heavier at times. The standout track on Casting Shadows has to be “Hamilton Park Ballerina, with its slow intro that dives right into a loud, catchy chorus, settles into a tight, dancing groove, then wows with a brief psychedelic solo, but keeps a solid drumbeat, and a grooving baseline. “That Little Girl” is a fuzz guitar, catchy dance tune that showcases the incredible talent of rumored eight handed drummer Scott Thomas Bolasci, but falls just slightly short of brilliance because it’s missing the visual accompaniment of at least two gogo dancers. The bluesy, wah wah vibed “Running Through My Mind” is going to make you think you’re hearing a performance by five young, black clad Bo Diddley fans from some smoke filled London club around 1966.

The cool hooks, kicks, and grooves just keep coming on Casting Shadows. Instead of cooling off at the end, “Patient Sparrow,” the final track, is a perfect climax with the simple introduction, built up by more hypnotic, rock ‘n roll drumwork, followed up by a perfect sync of Justin’s voice with the sitar, peaking with broad strokes of single note guitar fuzz that builds and then makes it’s sudden exit.

The Black HolliesCasting Shadows is psychedelic mod rock in modern terms, but it’s real psychedelic rock since the songs have a great soul base and then start shooting off in all directions, only to meet back with each other in perfect harmony. Although psychedelic rock has a strong notation for clich├ęs such as fuzz guitar, effects, phasing, Indian influences, and some loud, short jams, courtesy of a blues influence, truly good psychedelic rock was all about experimentation, and there were not too many bands that could do it well. The Black Hollies are damn good at it, which means their music will remind one of such greats as The Small Faces, The Master’s Apprentices, The Mickey Finn, The Yardbirds, and a few more notables like the “Flowers” era Rolling Stones or the “Sold Out” era Who. That’s a lot to put into one release, but psychedelic rock had about a good 4 years of existence in the mid to late ‘60s, so it had a brief explosion of great creativity that was followed up by the less exciting, various types of music that it spawned, which were not nearly as fun or inspiring, such as acid, progressive, and the always evil, mind numbing jam rock.

The Black Hollies are the result of what happens when you tape a pair of headphones on kids and play nothing but ‘60s London Underground Psychedelic Rock. They are PSYCHEDELIC ROCK with equal emphasis on both words. Casting Shadows rocks like nothing one’s heard in years. That means you should prepare yourself for a heavy dose of a freakbeat/freakout for their upcoming SXSW appearance. They're easily remembered, like a choice number of bands who still have people talking about seeing them at SXSW from years before.

Casting Shadows is available all over, but notable from Get Hip Distribution

Friday, March 20 The Independent (501 N IH 35) 12:00 a.m.

Paisley Pattern Ground

The Black Hollies @ The Knitting Factory, June 2008. Courtesy of thecalicowall

No comments: