Frog Holler

Adams Hotel Road

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Philadelphia labels have never been known for putting out a surplus of country. Over the years, a lot of jazz, R&B, rock, hip-hop, and dance music has been recorded by Philly labels. But as a rule, Philadelphia's A&R people tended to assume that they should leave country to the folks in Nashville. One exception came in 1999, when Record Cellar (a small indie based in Philly suburb of Bala Cynwyd) signed the Berks Country, PA, outfit Frog Holler. Adams Hotel Road, the band's first album for Record Cellar and second album overall, isn't pure or traditional country -- some of it is alternative country-rock/No Depression, some of it is Americana. But in terms of lyrical content, the CD is very country. It's been said that if hip-hop is, as Chuck D put it, "The CNN of the streets," country is the CNN of suburbia and small-town America -- and Frog Holler can tell you a lot about that environment. Adams Hotel Road paints a bittersweet picture of life in the small towns of Pennsylvania. Many of the songs are melancholy, and lead vocalist Darren Schlappich (who handles most of the writing) doesn't hesitate to tell you about dead-end jobs and dead-end relationships. Nonetheless, Frog Holler's affection for Berks County comes through -- when all is said and done, the country-rockers sound like they take pride in their small-town roots. Adams Hotel Road isn't quite as strong as Frog Holler's third album, Idiots, but it's still an enjoyable, fresh-sounding ode to Middle America.

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