Showing posts with label The Black Keys. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Black Keys. Show all posts

May 3, 2016

Album Review: Hollis Brown - Cluster of Pearls



A Review by Robert Dean

Many times when I hear the label “Americana” thrown around, I cringe. It’s become such a catch-all phrase, a hodge-podge of styles trying to describe one common ground: the lack of one element that’s rock or blues or country.

But, when I hear about bands doing the Americana thing from places like New York, I tend to get extra skeptical. While New York has churned out some of the best bands in history – down home blues is Chicago’s thing, and what does city slicker New York know about the country or the artist's struggle in a day where rent can financially ruin you? A lot apparently.

On Hollis Brown’s recent Record Store Day release, Cluster of Pearls, we’re witnessing a band figuring out their sound and getting the flavor just right. Even if it comes wearing a Yankees hat and likes bagels and lox instead of biscuits and gravy.

Hollis Brown capture a vibe on Cluster of Pearls that sounds like it coulda been brewed down in Muscle Shoals, with beers and smoke in hand.

I’ll admit, I went, and YouTube searched Hollis Brown’s music before this review and was middle of the road on some songs for their reliance to trying to be too poppy, maybe a little too much like a Jason Mraz with dark soul or something you’d hear in Target. I dunno. I also think dipping grilled cheese into ketchup is delicious, so whatever.

On Cluster of Pearls, the music feels different. It seems focused, maybe evolved. And apparently, after some Internet snooping, Cluster of Pearls is a collection of B-side tracks, which is nuts. This collection feels like a nod to The Band, The Flying Burrito Brothers and even some moments of The Stones in the Exile on Mainstreet era.  And if anyone’s got something to say aboutt Graham Parsons, they can just fuck right off.

The record’s opener, "Completed Fool" sounds like a funky, bluesy Hall and Oates take on Maneater, except not shitty. (Sorry 80’s dorks. I hate Yacht Rock.)
The last track, "Miracle" gives off a City and Colour vibe that’s a nice change of pace for the overall composure of the record. There are a lot of shades of Hollis Brown on the record, and it’s rad to see the different shades of their musical personalities shine through.

"Don’t Want To Miss You" is easily the best song on the record. It’s a classic bar room bummer, and it’s done so well. With its lonely beer bravado, it paints the immediate picture of a candle lit dive with too few patrons and a bored bartender wiping glasses to pass the time. Nothing’s on tv and no one’s watching anything but the world pass by. And at the end, there you are – staring into your drink with no one around to complain to. Just you and the whiskey staring back, testing you. That’s what "Don’t Want To Miss You" feels like.



There’s a little bit of everything on Cluster of Pearls, with nods to riffs straight off a Black Keys record, and harmonious melodies that a focused and together ala – you guessed it, The Band. Naturally, when hearing the jangly, foot-stomping riffs of Hollis Brown, I imagine playing shows with bands like Quiet Hollers, or Brian Fallon.

If this is any indication of Hollis Brown’s path to follow, the results will be exciting to behold. I’ll even forgive them for wearing cowboy hats in New York.

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You can only get Cluster of Pearls in record stores, if they have any left in stock, or eBay etc.

However, you can get Hollis Brown albums here http://www.hollisbrown.com/
or Amazon, etc.

Dec 29, 2011

FTM 101 Best Albums of 2011: 1-50





My tastes were more oriented towards roots-music this year than any in recent memory and The Damn Quails put out a stunning debut that satisfied my yearnings like no other. The unique voices of Bryon and Gabriel combine for divine harmonies and their writing is the class of contemporary bands that fall into the "red dirt" scene, or nearly any scene for that matter. There isn't a weak song on the offering and what's more, nearly every tune spent time lodged in my brain on replay at one point or another. Brilliant work, epic even. Best songs: All of them, but if you must have 1 or 2 …"Fool's Gold" and "Mary" always slay me.



Wrapped around the undeniable song of the year, "Codeine," is an album that more than pulls its own weight. Isbell fans may have hoped for something louder, but what they got was an artist-defining gem of a southern rock and soul record. Strong lyrics, excellent musicianship and plenty of easy-to-love melodies make this an album most anyone can appreciate, and true music lovers will adore. Best tracks: Codeine, Alabama Pines.





The boys went and growed up on us. While Hellbound Glory is still infatuated with the darker subjects - addiction, dysfunctional families and death, in particular - their songwriting has improved a great deal since their last album. Not that it was ever bad. It's just that this time around the songs are better developed. The hooks are hookier and the subject matter comes across more naturally - it no longer feels like they're trying to shoehorn in every deviant behavior and curse word they can, just because they can. This is a band on the rise and with material this good, they may eventually break down the wall between alt and country. Best tracks: Better Hope You Die Young, Knocked Off the Horse.



What else is there to say about Hayes? Rapier wit. Songwriting that recalls the greats of country and folk music. Memorable, affable voice. Actually has something to say. Just enough weirdness to keep him a little mysterious. Check, to all of those. This guy's the real deal; one of the few artists I'll buy an album from without hearing a single note. He never disappoints, never rests on his accolades. Thanks for another winner, Hayes! Best tracks: Another Like You, Chances Are.




Jimbo calls this "catfish music," and I see no better way to describe it. Confederate Buddha is a melting pot for southern music - R&B, rock, folk, country and swamp soul, all mixed, matched and sifted out at different times on the record. Mathus' writing is in turns poetic, straight-forward or abstract, all expertly crafted and emotionally performed. Best tracks: Cling to the Roots, Aces and Eights.




Bonnie Raitt, Janis Joplin and Neko Case in a blender vocals. Transgendered Hayes Carll songwriting chops. That was weird. …this album is great. 
Best tracks: Are You Ready to Die, Hell's Bells






The in-demand producer of #6/former hair band member/former 90's alt-rock band, the jack - nay master - of all trades turns in this hook-driven smorgasbord of power pop, hard rock and jangly country-flavored rave-up goodness. This album alongside #8 would make a killer party soundtrack. Best tracks: Synthesizers, Suckerpunch





If this is a sellout, I wish every artist who's been accused of such had such a well-done betrayal of ideals. The Black Keys expand their blues rock sound to (bluesy) glam rock and power pop without missing a step or making it sound contrived. Sometimes you just need to turn off your inner-critic and enjoy. Fun, fun, fun! Best tracks: Gold on the Ceiling, Nova Baby




Adele somehow straddles the huge divide between modern pop and "old people" soul music with great success. Even the songs that lack lyrically are made great by Adele's huge (but never diva-esque) voice. There hasn't been an artist in some time that brought together so many people in mutual admiration. This is a chick album that dudes can be unashamed to love. It's an old-school album that kids can groove to. Excellence. Best tracks - Rolling in the Deep, Someone Like You.



Sounding like the Black Crowes by way of Muscle Shoals, Ponderosa is a super-talented band of southern rockers who mostly steer clear of the clich├ęs of the genre. Kalen Bush's lead vocals are stirring and the harmonies take their sound over the top. Ponderosa isn't reinventing the wheel here, but what they do, they do very well. Best tracks: Old Gin Road, Devil on My Shoulder.





13. Stoney Larue - Velvet
15. Ryan Adams - Ashes and Fire
16. Pistol Annies - Hell on Heels
17. Wilco - The Whole Love
18. Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears - Scandalous
19. Mastodon - The Hunter
20. Will Hoge - Number Seven
22. Miranda Lambert - Four the Record
23. Foo Fighters - Wasting Light
24. Justin Haigh - People Like Me
25. Frank Ocean - Nostalgia, Ultra
26. Frank Turner - England Keep My Bones
28. Bon Iver - s/t
29. Sunny Sweeney - Concrete
31. Bad Meets Evil - Hell (The Sequel)
32. Left Lane Cruiser - Junkyard Speed Ball
34. Big KRIT - Return of 4Eva
35. The Decemberists - The King is Dead
36. F*cked Up - David Comes to Life
37. Merle Haggard - Working in Tennessee
38. Eli Young Band - Life at Best
39. Adam Hood - The Shape of Things
41. Glossary - Long Live All of Us
43. Blitzen Trapper - American Goldwing
44. Dawes - Nothing is Wrong
45. Cody Canada and The Departed - This is Indian Land
46. The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow
47. George Strait - Here for a Good Time
48. Robyn Ludwick - Out of These Blues
50. Jason Boland and the Stragglers - Rancho Alto


Oct 13, 2011

A Sh*tload of Alternative/Indie Parody Album Covers

I am a very unorganized person. Thus, I can't remember what Photoshopped covers I have and haven't posted before (except in the country genre, for which I run the series of monthly "Country Day" posts about). Therefore, I'm going to post ALL of the covers left in my Alternative/Indie Rock file folder. Some of these are repeats but there are quite a few you haven't seen before. Regardless, it will give me a clean slate in the particular genre(s). Enjoy. (?)























































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