by ‘Rebel’ Rod Ames
This year has thus far blown me away as far as the quality of music I have reviewed. The word “outstanding” doesn’t even begin to describe it. Just go back and look at some of the reviews I’ve written here, David Bromberg, Elvin Bishop, and Meat Puppets, to name a few.
The latest great band to cross my path is The Hollows, out of Brooklyn, New York. While listening to the first track on the record, I had flashbacks to Jefferson Starship before they sold out and became commercial. It was reminiscent of their classic 1970 release Blows Against the Empire without the space theme. I’m strictly referring to the sound here, not the lyrics. That’s as far as I’ll go with comparisons, although they do list bands such as The Band and Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young as a couple of their major influences along with Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Old Crow Medicine Show. I believe The Hollows are finding, or have found their own way and will make their own mark on music history.
This is their debut release and it’s a monster. Not just in quality either, even though there is no doubt it applies to their work, but also in quantity as well. The album contains fourteen original tunes ranging from 47 seconds, to six minutes in length. Most are four to five minutes in length, all in all totaling around sixty-five minutes of incredible music.
It all gets started with the fore mentioned first track, “Basilica” a raucous little tune about a church and a shotgun wedding, with a very misleading banjo intro that rapidly turns into a very funky folk-rock ballad. Please do not misunderstand, the banjo belongs there, and later on, so does the mandolin. It all works splendidly well, and will have you dancing around the room laughing uncontrollably. It is an enormous amount of fun to listen too.
The range of talent here is extraordinary. They will rock you; they will serenade you with dramatic folk ballads on steroids. The Hollows incorporate just about every instrument known to man throughout the record, ranging from dulcimer to electric guitar, to piano to accordion. All the vocals are powerful, without ever overpowering each other. They instead complement one another on song after song.
The second tune is “Youngblood” but not to be confused with the Leon Russell classic. Even though I believe The Hollows, “Youngblood” could go in the direction of classic status as well. That is if we can get it some airplay.
However, I think one of the most impressive tunes on the entire record is “Mad as Dogs” which could be one of those “cross-over” tunes that possesses the ability to catapult a band into the spotlight. If that happens, I urge the band to remain close to its roots. Wilco did that and it has worked for them. They have continued to evolve without abandoning who they are. The Hollows should do the same.
I can guarantee you one thing. Nearly every tune on this record could easily find its way on to my weekly radio program. Overall, The Hollows’ Belong to the Land is one of the most enjoyable records I have heard this year, possibly this millennium!
The Hollows are Jeffrey Kurtze, Daniel Kwiatkowski, Rob Morrison, David Paarlberg, and Erik Saxvik. They all hail from the northeast and the upper Midwest.
Belong to the Land was recorded in Rhinebeck, NY at The Clubhouse, where artists such as Dr. John, Natalie Merchant, Rusted Root, and George Clinton have all recorded. The record was superbly produced and mixed by Graham Galatro.
I normally abhor name-calling, but here I am going to do some name suggesting; ‘Rebel’ Rod says you may be a fool if you don’t, at the very least, check this one out. It releases August 9 and I will, with the bands permission, be spinning a track or two Saturday night on my show.