Nothing & The Famous No One (EP)
French Kiss Records, 2012
REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/06/2012
A good rule of thumb is that any band who references Bob Dylan are worth a listen. In this case, it’s New York alt-country heroes Hollis Brown (their name is taken from a track off Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’) who already delivered one of the best discs of 2009 with their debut album. This follow-up EP, with guest vocals from Deer Tick frontman John McCauley and with Deer Tick producer Adam Landry turning the knobs, definitely has a rowdy, bar rock feel. Hollis Brown opted to record live straight to analog tape, in – what else – a Nashville cabin.
This disc is a quick listen where not a second is wasted. Hollis Brown delivers lush, gritty, and charged rock ’n’ roll with traces of blues, country, and classic rock warmth. The disc opens with “Gypsy Black Cat,” an emotive ballad with plenty of blues influence and words straight from a heavy heart. The middle tracks alternate from driving melodies that beg for sing-a-longs to powerful, nearly cathartic, maudlin moments that illustrate a very pensive, melancholic side. Closing out the disc is “Ride On The Train,” a wild rocker with crunchy guitars and barely contained piano, an uproarious number that would be the ideal soundtrack to a night with a few drinks and good friends. It’s the perfect way to close out a disc that is first and foremost a fun listening adventure.
This is a collection that captures the band’s gritty, energetic live sound (this was recorded in single cuts) while retaining their soulful, nostalgic, twang sensibilities. There isn’t a dull moment across these four tracks. Ideal for late nights on the front porch or spontaneous dancing in the barn, Nothing & The Famous No One makes me want to hop a train with Ryan Adams’ Heartbreaker in my headphones. It’s a quick listen, but not one you’re likely to forget anytime soon.