Given that they crawled out of Queens and their last release was a verbatim account of the Velvet Underground’s Loaded, one might expect Hollis Brown to be rooted in a vintage epoch.
But the breadth of urban references they bring to bear on the street corner addict’s Sweet Tooth, a direct descendant of Waiting For The Man, and the stark soldier’s letter home from Iraq, Wait For Me Virginia, are as stoutly modern as they are bewilderingly brilliant. Flashes of Love’s Four Sail sound are stamped over the enigmatic John Wayne, chased down by Spaghetti Western motifs and a whistling coda. There’s not enough whistling on albums.
A resurrected Bo Diddley rhythm guitar track drives on Rain Dance, one of several songs on 3 Shots that make them sound like good ol’ boys. Here they channel KC and Dennis Linde, while the Hispanic Mi Amor rocks up like Marty Robbins.
Everything is peachy once bandleaders Mike Montila and Jonathan Bonilla head out to the country with guest Nikki Lane on Highway 1. Then back to the streets for Death Of An Actress (Vivien Leigh?), a riposte to the Velvets’ New Age. They don’t stand in anyone’s shadow though. Sharp shooting.