Casting Shadows

Jersey City's The Black Hollies aren't so much blues revivalists as they are blues preservationists. Unlike the revivalists of the 1960s, who came to supplement their traditional blues riffs with new trends (like psychedelia) and technology (like synthesizers), The Black Hollies actually attempt to preserve psych-soul as it sounded at the Marquee Club in 1965. They don't do a bad job of it, either.

While their sophomore LP, Casting Shadows, gets off to a rocky start on the unexciting "Whispers in the Forest" (there are good clichés and bad clichés; this is definitely not a good one), it really begins with the second track, "Paisley Pattern Ground." This is definitely a good cliché: raw, punchy, Yardbirds-like blues riffs, psychedelic vocal harmonies, and hazy noise infusion coupled with lyrics that imply sexual desperation: "Baby watch your step / You gonna dress like that." Throughout the album, The Black Hollies recreate through sound the dark, smoke-filled, sweat-soaked clubs that gave rise to some of the greatest music the world has ever known.

The group does show some progress since its last album, 2005's Crimson Reflections. But it is the same kind of progress The Beatles made when George Harrison brought a sitar back from India. Eastern drones permeate the album, and the superb "The Autumn Chateau" and the epic final song, "Patient Sparrow" utilize twangy ragas.

This music is not new, or fresh, or life changing. But it is catchy as hell, well written, and well executed, and it is exciting that people are still making music like this.

MP3 Download - "Paisly Pattern Ground"

The Black Hollies
Ernest Jenning Record Co.

Casting Shadows