[5 April 2007]
The Bloody Hollies are a bass-less, blues-drenched riff monster fronted by a powerfully hoarse singer-guitarist, and they will turn your ears and limbs to jelly if you let them, which you should. Who to Trust, Who to Kill, Who to Love is their third album, it’s full of energy and drama, and it’s the best excuse to test the limits of your stereo that I’ve heard all year. Musically, it’s an earthquake like you just don’t experience that often these days, a full-throttle blast of garage blues a la Zeppelin, with hooks in all the right places. Wesley Doyle is a fantastic singer precisely because he screams himself into a frenzy and wreaks such havoc on his vocal cords. In other words, he invests his lyrics—delivered at a speed that makes the journey to the center of your mind an awfully quick one—with feeling, which seems not a bit overdone despite the high energy involved. Where many singers either eschew emotion altogether or pump the most mindlessly generic lyrics full of somebody-help-me supplications, Doyle howls his way through the classic blues tropes of women, Jesus and lots of rain, avoiding the literal hellhounds but pulling off the atmosphere quite effectively. Certainly as musicians the Bloody Hollies are an excellent force, the thunder to Doyle’s lightning. When they let up it’s almost hard to tell, because subtlety is not their forte—Joey Horgen and Matthew Bennett attack their instruments with precision and volume, all the time. The music is suitably doom-laden for their take on Shirley Jackson’s short-fiction creep-show “The Lottery” (“Black Box Blues”), and the power chords of “Let’s Do It” make that five-minute come-on impossible to resist, even if Doyle’s own confusion lingers like daddy’s echoing footsteps. Plus their Attica song beats John Lennon’s any day of the week. Standout tracks are useless to name, as the whole thing will rock the floorboards of your front porch till your feet bleed from all the splinters.