Hollis Brown Channel Range of Rock Inspiration on ‘Cluster Of Pearls’ EP (ALBUM REVIEW)


New York’s Hollis Brown has had a great couple of years. Last year saw the band opening up for Counting Crows on a country-wide tour of the U.S. and they are currently on a headlining tour of their own. The group brings together rock, country and blues to create their own timeless sound that listeners of any age can find something to relate to. Chosen to be one of the 300 limited-edition releases for this year’s Record Store Day, they are set to release a new EP, Cluster of Pearls. While the original pressing was limited to 800 copies that were pressed on starburst vinyl, the six previously unreleased tracks are being made available digitally on August 26.

The EP opens with the track “Completed Fool”, which is probably the most straight ahead rock track on the album. Centered on a simple bass riff and a steady drum beat, singer Mike Montali’s vocals soar out with a catchy verse that is hard to get out of your head. This is followed up by a ballad called “Don’t Want to Miss You” that brings to mind rock-crooners from the fifties complete with vibrato guitar picking and Montali singing in a bluesy voice. “Cold City” is one of the most standout tracks on the EP with its blues rock riffs bringing to mind The Black Keys, and it’s easy to imagine that it would be a fan favorite at a live show. The combination of Montali’s vocals and Jonathan Bonilla’s guitar work on “Miracles” would not feel out of place on a Gin Blossoms or Toad the Wet Sprocket album and does a great job of giving both a nineties college rock feel while still keeping the feel of a Hollis Brown song. The other two tracks on the album, “Hey Baby” and the title-track “Cluster of Pearls”, really capture the influences of the band in different ways. “Hey Baby” plays out as a Delta blues song with sliding guitar riffs and rim-tapping drums with Montali singing ‘Hey baby/Make me blue/I don’t want to make sweet love to me’. The album’s namesake sounds like it could be a tribute to Gram Parsons or Guy Clarke. Adam Bock plays out an olde time piano as the percussion section plays a waltz while the guitar fluctuates from twang to distortion.

All in all, “Cluster of Pearls” is a solidly impressive selection of songs that gives new listeners a taste of all the sounds of the band while giving long-time fans something new to sate them while they wait for a follow up to last year’s 3 Shots.

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Photo by Shervin Lainez

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