April 2, 2009

"I can't be the one to help you forget, but you might be the one, so I won't give up yet."

The Hollyfelds - Black Heart Blue
Verdict: Love (<)+

(This is a review of The Hollyfelds's new album, but I really don't start saying the really nice stuff about it until the last paragraph, so if that's what you're here for, go to the last paragraph)

I've been a fan on the Hollyfelds for a while now. I've only seen them once since they opened for Langhorne Slim last year, but that didn't really count because I saw them at an Indian food restaurant, and they weren't performing, they were just being people. So when I got word that they'd released a new EP, I was excited to hear it, because everything I'd heard before was just fantastic (I'd still recommend their old stuff too).

This new EP, Black Heart Blue, has a lot of songs about love, but, in keeping with country traditions, the songs lean more towards the painful sides of love. That's right, The Hollyfelds are unabashedly country, and there's no shame in that at all, especially when you go about it in the way these cool kids go about it. When I think of country, I think of Hank Williams singing about how he's lonely (he's crying he's so lonesome sometimes), and women who are rising up and pushing their power in the face of the misogynistic society, but still finding a place in their heart for men (either to use them or to have them there by their side helping them fight the life fight). I've always found this aspect of country music fascinating. Men listen to it to get their blues out, admitting weakness and sensitivity, and Women listen to it to encourage themselves to stand up and fight. I think the fact that the people our country pigeon-holes into the country-rock-listening-group are people who are manly men and battered women. Maybe the music is there to try to get these two to change their ways, kind of showing them the way. A very interesting dynamic I've honestly never heard anyone talk about before (but I've not really done any research on this one...). Really, though, I have no idea what most popular country music talks about, so I could be entirely wrong on this whole concept.

Also, now that I'm thinking about it, pop country could be thought of as the new punk, because punk started out trying to make people hate it (kind of ... I know there's about a billion reasons as to why punk started ... just go with me on this one) ... and a lot of people really dislike pop country, so in that way, it's kind of a punk thing to do.

I bring all that up because I think it needs to be said that pop country, as a whole, is a very misunderstood genre that is frequently ridiculed, and I just can't help but think that's wrong. Sure old county and alt-country groups are respected, but pop country in the last 15-20 years just doesn't get any good press. Well I think the Hollyfelds is a great start to turning that sort of thought process around.

Regardless of all that though, The Hollyfelds really shouldn't be too concerned with what genre they are going to be put into, because they're clearly such great musicians that these things simply just don't matter. Their new album is country through and through, but the sentiments are similar to any other song out there. These musicians are looking for love, having a hard time with decisions, and having trouble with what's truly going on here in this crazy world of ours ... just like every other musician, and, really, person out there, except they have siren-esq voices and a backing band that will make any band rethink whether or not they, like the Hollyfelds, have the skills to pay the bills. (did I seriously just write that? so dorky). The Hollyfelds write scincere, heart breaking, and, over all, catchy tunes that'll put a tear in your beer. The Hollyfelds have yet to release a poorly written song, but if you're looking for the sweetest ears of corn, pick this one, it's clearly the best of the bunch (though their older stuff is seriously nothing to be snubbed.

The Hollyfelds - She's Got You

The Hollyfelds - Hey 52

smancy news from the mouth of the horse (The Hollyfelds' myspace):
Friday night (April 3) we will be celebrating [the release of our new EP] at The Skylark Lounge in Denver (140 S. Broadway). $5 at the door will get you in to see not only us, but also the awesome GT and The Sidewinders! Music will start around 9:30, so don’t be late!

Saturday night (April 4) we will be driving South to Colorado Springs to celebrate. We will be at The Rocket Room (230 Pueblo Ave.) and will be playing with The Chris Winters Show and Roosterd. The show is only $5 and starts at 9:00.

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