Hollis Brown - Ride On The Train Review
Taking their name from a Dylan track should give you an idea of what this band is all about. Wearing their twangy Americana style on their sleeves, this quartet straight out of Queens NYC release their debut album on Alive Naturalsound records.
With a carefree attitude and addictive foot tapping hook, Hollis Brown take you on an audible journey from start to finish. Please don't ignore this band if Americana really isn't your cup of tea because Ride on The Train is a true mixture of styles that carries strong blues undertones on some tracks along with a rockier edge to others. This mixture along with catchy melodies, honest lyrics and a sincere delivery give Hollis Brown a sound that's hard to dismiss. It's hard not to compare them to bands like Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers and Passenger.
Vocalist Mike Montali charms the listeners with a vulnerability but also lets loose on the more rocky tracks Walk On Water and Down On Your Luck. The opening title track is catchy and gives an overall introduction to the southern flavour for the rest of the album.
On songs like Gypsy Black Cat, Devito's ambling bass work provides a solid backbone to support the scorching lead guitar attack from Jon Bonilla. This track is dirty, rocky and downright addictive. It's almost hard to believe Bonilla is versatile enough to pull off the seething solo of Doghouse Blues alongside the gentle beauty of If It Ain't Me's classical acoustic guitar melody. To be able to convey the melancholic vulnerability of the latter song and then unleash the primitive burst of restless fury that is Walk on Water back to back is a feat that most guitarists simply cannot pull off.
The main reason I've taken to Hollis Brown is their simple formula. There are no frills or gimmicks to this bands sound. Ride on the Train is just four guys playing from the heart and its obvious track after track. As a rule, I think most people are drawn to the heavier rock songs on an album, but these guys really do shine on the slowed down tracks like When The Weather's Warm and Nightfall which contains emotions that I think everyone can identify with. The overall sincerity of these guys is captured whole heartedly with these tracks and Ride on the Train is an album that should be on everyone's summer playlist.