Written by volunteer contributor Tim Schmitt.
See Des Moines band Holy White Hounds at this year’s Gross Domestic Product on April 12th, 2014. Details here.
Five songs. Seventeen minutes.
Not a lot of time in which to leave an impression.
On their Oh Mama EP Holy White Hounds take advantage of every second and cover a lot of ground. The impression left behind blends earworm grooves, electronic samples, and soul-rattling guitar and bass riffs in one powerhouse rock-and-roll bundle that leaves you wanting more and wondering what else this band has up its sleeve.
Oh Mama is a curious blend of genres and styles that coalesce nicely into one wonderfully tough-to-categorize package. For those who insist on comparisons think Beck, Deee-Lite, Blue Cheer, Eddie Cochran, and old iPod commercials.
Not real helpful is it? That’s the beauty of this EP.
Maybe they drew from all these sources. Or maybe from none. Regardless, the result is a straightforward mix of bass-driven rock and roll supplemented with a complex layering of sounds and effects that add depth rather than distraction.
The opening track, “Switchblade”, defies logic. It bobs when you’re sure it’s going to weave; it slows when it should speed up; it keeps you guessing without straying too far from the familiar. It builds beautifully until it just flat out rocks and returns in the final seconds to a beginning that you almost forgot about along the way.
“Gaver Water” is pretty straightforward modern garage rock, heavy on feedback and effects, but never at the expense of heart and soul. It confirms early suspicions that this is a bass driven EP in the best possible sense.
“Oh Mama” is slower in tempo and feels right at home placed smack dab in the middle of this album, helping transition from the effect-laden opening tracks to the more straightforward offerings to come. It’s a friendly piece that should appeal to hipster indie rockers and classic rock diehards alike. It also holds the best line on the album: “If Jesus is gonna save us, what’s he waiting for? To watch my heart break some more?”
“In Your Skin” is big from the get go. Huge, fuzzy riffs. Driving bass. Funky breaks. Falsetto vocals. A guitar solo that takes off like a jet on a short runway and launches the song—and the entire EP—into the stratosphere. Placing “In Your Skin” at this point on the EP was brilliant planning. It leaves behind all but traces of the electronic effects heard earlier as if the band had grown bored playing with the computers in the studio and decided it was time to let loose. Brilliant.
Recorded live, “Boys Wanna Kiss You” demonstrates that this is a band more than capable of replicating live what is heard on the recording. The rockabilly feel in this track is pretty far from the opening of the album yet manages to remain in the family and wrap everything up together and leave you wishing there were at least five more tracks to explore.
In short, the production value of Oh Mama is exceptional. The musicianship is outstanding. The songs are catchy and riddled with depth. There’s really not much more you could ask for. Buy it.
Check out the video for “In Your Skin” here:
Video for Switchblade at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxjowNDh4tk
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