The Black Hollies - Casting Shadows
Record Label: Ernest Jennings Record Co.
Release Date: March 11, 2008
New York City is known for having a gaggle of rock bands who take many inspirations from 60s and 70s rock. The Strokes took a good piece of their stuff from acts like those punks known as The Velvet Underground whereas the Yeah Yeah Yeahs took inspiration from late 70s punk while injecting a sheen of early 80s glam to the mix for good measure. NYC's The Black Hollies have also cribbed their music from 70s rock, but this time it's more in the vein of psychedelic rock a la Blue Oyster Cult. On their second full-length release, Casting Shadows, the band emulates the Cult to such an extent that you'll be begging for more cowbell.
Starting with "Whispers in the Forest," there is a ton of reverb in vocalist/bassist Justin Angelo Morey's voice, and he really blends it to the emulation of trippy rock. He gets credit for the fact that his vocal style wouldn't be out of place in the era. "Whispers in the Forest" and "Paisley Pattern Ground" also boasts some funky rhythms provided effectively by Morey and his two dueling guitarists Herb Wiley V and Jon Gonnelli. But Casting Shadows doesn't cover just one era of psychedelia, as "Under A Winter's Spell" goes for more of a Beatles Revolver-era sound.
Unfortunately, style points doesn't always help you win favor. While the songs are well constructed, the lyrical content is simply not there. Not to say that most of the lyrics really matter, but something that works with a group like Blue Oyster Cult or even modern contemporaries in the genre like Black Mountain is that their lyrics have well-written allegorical qualities that tell a great story, such as "(Don't Fear) The Reaper." However, nothing on Casting Shadows even touches the quality of a song like that. While the music is fine, there's nothing on this record worth repeating a second time.
That said, Casting Shadows is not a horrible album. Unlike a lot of music, it is a perfectly listenable and pleasant. However, the next time The Black Hollies go up to bat, maybe they need to bring some clever stories and irony to the proceedings.