With the revolution of Americana roots pouring through the public’s speakers lately it’s only a matter of time before everyone is doing it. Sure, there are a sea of bands playing folk, bluegrass, country or some amalgam of multiple genres resulting in a mixture of traditional and non-traditional. The thing is, is that the public desire is like a roaring fire, boiling away the junk that doesn’t cut it, most of the time at least. So when I say that American Hollar has been at this for a bit, with members that are stoking the fire while being in the pot, you need only listen to “The Things You can’t Change” to get what I mean. This is a group of guys, some who have influenced the growing community of musicians, while playing some of the best americanafolkbluegrasswhateverelseyouthink around. (That’s a real genre, I promise)
Quick background: American Hollar started in 2008 by Mike Males (who also founded myruralradio.com) and has with it, a cast and crew of musicians, some regular some not so regular. They have been featured in a few magazines, interviews, and have about 40 some odd songs under their belt. They are also located in the southern York area. They get around, playing shows all throughout the area and some afar (like other states). Ok, back to the album!
The album was produced locally in Delta PA at Sleepy Hollow Sound, and sounds great. There are a mixture of instruments on this album, most are stringed instruments. You can tell from the playing, they all know what they are doing; the musicianship is wonderful. One thing about americanafolkbluegrasswhateverblah is that you can easily step on toes if you aren’t careful, and if you get a little off beat, everyone knows it and you can feel it in the song. On this album, each member knows their parts, and their parts are well separated so that no one is butting in line, and no one is the star. This is a collaboration of musicians in celebration of the arts, and carrying the weight of the songs on each other shoulders. The sound of the disc may vary from tune to tune, but never strays far from the core of the band’s sound. If I had one criticism, I have but one, small, teeny nitpick: I wish the songs were more open, it almost feels as if this was done in a small room. I love the openness acoustic instruments give off in a live open setting and if recorded right get some amazing sounds. All that aside, I don’t care “The Things You can’t Change” is still an amazing listen on a Friday afternoon with a cold brew, or any day of the week….with a cold one.
The track I particularly enjoyed the most was “Remember Me”. The first thing that stood out to me, is that this one feels like it was written from such a deep place. Now all this is purely subjective, but your in my world now. Through out all the tunes, the vocals come across so honest and pure, but in this song there is something more, I feel. Even in the music playing it takes it’s time, just to get the point across to the listener. It’s such a heavy tune, just facing the things you must but wish you didn’t have to, or at least I think.. Through the whole of this song there is a backbone, a steady rhythm section with a few leads placed in to break it up, and it’s just wonderful, absolutely wonderful.
Most of the things I review on this site, I just adore, so I tried honestly to find something I was neutral to. I’m not a huge fan of country, and to me at first, this border lined on what is country (not that nu-metal nickleback “country”). But you know, after a few listens, I am really enjoying this disc. The song that hit it for me is defiantly “Remember Me”, although I can’t say any of the others hit me the right way, they certainly grew on me. The sheer honesty in this album, take the intro to “Sweet Baby’s Arms”, the false start left in there, just awesome. I love the attitude, and that’s what won me over to them. If you already like country, more so in the traditional sense, you’ll just love these guys; and if your a fan of all types of music, please check out American Hollar, they will not let you down. And I want them on my show so, Mike, if you read this, come on in!
You can check out their album here!