Oct 18, 2011

Hollis Brown Defines “The Brooklyn Blues”

It’s with trepidation that I attempt to craft with words what distinguishes Hollis Brown from a slew of other artists on the New York scene as they are like NOTHING currently gaining notoriety.

RethinkPopMusic has been fortunate enough to have spent a great deal of time with the band over the past couple years as Bob explained in an earlier post, before immediately demanding that they provide us with their recently recorded material from Nashville that went straight to tape. Well, we recently got our hands on the music and as someone not previously familiar with Hollis Brown, I demanded that I get to write the review… though his 2, or dare I say 20, cents is obvious throughout this review.

The unfortunately overused “soul” stands out as the word best encompassing the “it” quality that thrusts this band to the front of an ever increasing pack that isn’t quite as deserving. Front man Mike Montali conveys a feeling of honesty with every line delivered from his grainy pipes. Each pause and drawn out syllable is done so with such conviction as he gives life to raw emotion. If the vocal element serves as a confession of truth, the crude growl of the guitar answers like a priest from behind the lattice offering both condemnation and solace. If there were ever to be a reincarnation of the blues, this would be it as a band like Hollis Brown will never be a Brooklyn “buzz band” because they are simply too talented for the revolving door of most blogs’ mediocre content.

The new track that catches our attention first is “Cold City” which offers an exemplary peak at the range and talent of Hollis Brown, exposing the photo negative of “Empire State of Mind”. Lyrically loyal to pioneers such as Muddy Waters & John Lee Hooker, Montali gripes on the everyday struggles of life in NYC. This all while stamping each track with an impressive delivery that shows traces of Van Morrison. Each member of the band, including the edition of their new bassist and harmonizing key driven rhythm section, shows exemplary talent and a willingness to stay true to their roots all while expanding upon the status quo. A great example of the type of talent we’re referring to would be a recent performance of a “Revolution Blues” at Brooklyn Bowl with Ian Oneil of Deer Tick.

If you would like to take a far departure from the electro-pop dominant Brooklyn music scene, Hollis Brown will showcase their gritty, textured sound at 11pm TONIGHT at The Mercury Lounge and again TOMORROW at 10:30pm as part of our CMJ showcase at Spike Hill.

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