Photo by Shervin Lainez
“A lot of bands are weird and only want to play their original music,” says Mike Montali, frontman for New York’s Hollis Brown. You certainly could never accuse the group of turning their backs on their influences. The band’s name comes from a Bob Dylan song, and their set lists often include blues standards or Creedence Clearwater Revival songs thrown in among the originals. But the outfit’s songwriting is what’s attracting a lot of attention. March 5 sees the release of Ride On The Train, Hollis Brown’s debut album and one packed to the brim with sterling songs that measure up to those covers they’re so fond of playing live.
Five lifelong friends formed Hollis Brown a few years ago, steadily building up their profile with gigs around their New York City home. Their releases came tentatively and surprisingly: an EP, plus a one-off single featuring DMC–yes, that DMC–on a verse. When it came time to record their first full-length, the band dove in head first. The members headed to Nashville to record with Adam Landry, a producer who’s worked with Deer Tick and Diamond Rugs. Hollis Brown shares a rough-and-tumble quality with those bands, and Landry made sure to capture them in all their messy glory.
Still, Hollis Brown blast through Ride On The Train with the swagger of a well-oiled bar band. Blues and country riffs collide with pop and rock melodies, and it’s easy to hear why they’re so hotly tipped for South By Southwest. “Down On Your Luck” is the perfect introduction to the band: hotshot lead guitar, a rollicking beat, and a soulful vocal from Montali. In short, it already sounds like a classic.
You can catch Hollis Brown during SXSW 2013:
Wed, 3/13: J. Black’s (Deli Hangover Hideout), 6:30pm
Fri, 3/15: Javelina (New Frontier Touring Official Showcase), 9pm
Sat, 3/16: The Lodge (Rethink Pop Music), 4:30 pm
Sat, 3/16: Papi Tino’s (Brooklyn Country Cantina), 6pm