Black Hollies

Somewhere Between Here and Nowhere

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The Black Hollies spent three albums and many years digging as deeply into the '60s as they could. Touching on blues-rock rave-ups, melancholy Baroque pop, swirling psychedelia, and good old British Invasion-style songcraft, the New Jersey trio had their revivalism down to a science. When it came time to record their fourth album, they decided something needed to change. Justin Angelo Morey wrote a different-sounding batch of songs for their next album, and over the next three years, through various travails, he and the band recorded them. Not exactly forsaking the thickly psychedelic sound they'd cultivated so precisely, they set about updating their approach and scuffing up their previously pristine songs. The band's DNA expanded to include input from a wider range of sources, including the hypnotic drone of '90s noiseniks like Spacemen 3, the driving rhythms of '70s Germany, and the reverb-heavy sound of garage pop contemporaries like the Black Lips. It was a daring move, to blow up their identity and forge a new path, but it works completely. Credit the production skills Morey exhibits, as everything sounds amazingly rich and full, his hook-filled and moody songwriting, the work of the band (especially Jon Gonnelli's excellent work on vintage keys), and the overall feeling of the band's perfectly handled growth that comes through as the record spins. The songs fit together like interlocking pieces of a puzzle, each one sharing the same strongly melodic core and hazy overcoat of sound, but each having a life of its own, too. The buzzing "When It's Time to Come Down" is a highlight, so is the over-driven ballad "Here Comes the Rain," which shines like a wet rain slicker. There's even a song that sounds like it could have been a hit in the early '90s -- the steady rolling title track has some very catchy "hey hey" backing vocals and a kind of happy Jesus and Mary Chain vibe that makes it hard not to stop the record and give it a second, or third, spin. What impresses most, though, is the overall impact the accumulated songs deliver as the album progresses. While it's kind of a bummer that the Black Hollies don't sound like an update of the Left Banke anymore, what they've become is even better.

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