New York City's Hollis Brown (a band, not a person) have a tight, sparse classic rock sound that incorporates melodic pop, slight country touches, and, underneath it all, a kind of bedrock blues sensibility, and when they're at their best, they sound like all of those things at once, a bit like hearing Steve Earle fronting a stripped-down version of Tom Petty's Heartbreakers. Ride on the Train is the group's debut full-length album, and it's a gem, full of memorable songs and a sharp, taut sound that only includes what is necessary to put the song over. There's so much to like here, including the title track and opener "Ride on the Train," which lopes joyously and features a can't-miss, hooky chorus, as does the wonderful and grand "Faith & Love," while "Gypsy Black Cat" and "Down on Your Luck" sound a bit like Tom Petty gone country, only without losing a whisper of Petty's spunk and attitude. This is a band that knows rock roots and history, and knows exactly what it's doing, and the arrangements here have no unneeded embellishments: the guitars are whip sharp and appropriate, the drum sound is tight, spare, and perfect, and the harmonies don't overdo. This is a band with a bright future.
Ride on the Train Review
by Steve Leggett