Music

Hollow Everdaze: Cartoons

Photo: Matt Neumann

Psychedelic pop '60s style meets '90s shoegaze in a record that sadly sounds like an album's worth of decent filler tracks without the singles or highlights.


Hollow Everdaze

Cartoons

Label: Deaf Ambitions
US Release Date: 2017-06-30
UK Release Date: 2017-06-30
Amazon
iTunes

Hollow Everdaze’s debut album takes equal parts inspiration from late ‘60s psychedelic pop and ‘90s shoegaze. And they sparingly throw in other stylistic touches, including strings and synthesizers, to their basic guitar rock template. On paper, this sounds like a strong formula. In practice, Cartoons sounds more like an album’s worth of decent filler tracks without any of the singles or highlights that make listeners sit up and pay attention.

What is it that makes the album so middling? Mostly it’s the lack of hooks. There are very few memorable bits here. The guitars are fine stylistically but lack strong riffs. The vocals are slightly below average but not so rough that singer Dan Baulch can’t carry a tune. The band has a psychedelic bent, and they clearly want to create texture and atmosphere, but even that aspect is only so-so. This is all on display on “Cartoons”, the record’s opening track. A feedback-laden, shoegazey guitar riff dominates the intro, accompanied by a short keyboard figure. Baulch comes in with moody, subdued singing and is backed up by a violin. The song even goes to a march-style bridge in its middle. It’s not a barnburner of a beginning, but it works quite well to establish the band’s sound and seems to set the stage for more interesting material to come.

But that isn’t what happens. Second song “Poisoned by Nostalgia” takes inspiration from the ‘60s and does it pretty effectively. The bendy guitars and full strings are spot on, but Baulch’s vocals are buried in the mix and lack anything resembling a catchy melody. Because the vocals are buried, the lyrics are difficult to make out. On top of that, the lack of vocal melody forces the ‘60s musical pastiche to support the whole song on its own. It’s a good pastiche, but not that good.

This turns out to be a pattern throughout the album. The band consistently tries to let its skill at stylistic imitation speak for itself without adding much of anything fresh. “Running Away” illustrates this well. It’s a ballad laden with syrupy strings, prominent Motown-style bass, and a romantic, soulful vocal performance. The band throws in some minor synth sounds, but mostly it’s just a spot-on ‘70s soft-rock ballad. “Catastrophe” uses hollow body electric guitars, both clean and distorted, to give the song a signature ‘60s sound. But beyond that distinctive texture there isn’t much to grab on to. Baulch’s vocals aren’t that interesting, and those guitars don’t do much.

Near the end of the album, the band finally comes up with a couple of catchy songs. “Same Old Story” is an acoustic guitar and string-based ballad with a good vocal melody. It also effectively employs vibraphone and flute to expand the song texturally. “Warcry” is the record’s best song. It’s another ‘60s pastiche, this time of orchestral pop. But the song has a bounce to it, exemplified by Jackson Kay's bass. The vocals fit in nicely with the orchestration, and while this isn’t exactly the big sing-along the rest of the music calls for, at least it doesn’t feel like Baulch is letting down the band.

But a pair of above average songs are not enough to pull Cartoons out of its haze of mediocrity. There just isn’t much on the album to get excited about. I’ll give the caveat that this is a debut and the band is solid in terms of playing skill, so it’s entirely possible that Hollow Everdaze will develop more of their own identity if they stay together longer. But for right now, what they have are mostly uninspired takes on styles that rock and guitar pop fans have been hearing for decades.

4

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image