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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Holy Rollers - As Is

Name: Holy Rollers
Album: As Is
Year: 1990
Style: Garage, Indie-Core, Rock/Punk
Similar Bands: Bad Religion, Fugazi, Screaming Trees, Helmet, Life Of Agony, Animal Bag
"One Word" Review: Alternative Punk Metal
Based Out Of: Washington DC
Label: Dischord
 As Is - Cover, Record, Sleeve Photo, Dischord Order Sheet
                                        As Is - Back, Record, Sleeve Lyrics, Dischord Order Sheet
As Is (1990)
  1. Eleventy 3:09
  2. Freedom Asking 2:27
  3. Head On 2:36
  4. We 2:09
  5. Machine 3:08
  6. Dahlia 2:45 / 
  7. Opus 2:41
  8. Poison Lung 2:22
  9. Everlast 2:52
  10. Ode to Sabine County 2:54
  11. Sacred Minds 2:08
  12. Johnny Greed 2:25

Album Rating (1-10): 5.5

Members & Other Bands:
Marc Lambiotte - Vox, Guitar

Joe Aronstamn - Bass, Vox (Grand Mal)
Maria Jones - Drums, Vox (Broken Siren)
Juliana Luecking - Spoken Word
Geoff Turner - Producer, Vox, Guitar, Organ
Richard Robinson - Engineer
Jeff Nelson - Graphics
Peter Hayes - Logo
K. Sayengo - Typeset
Underwood & Underwood - Front Photo
Naomi Petersen - Band Photo
James Cohrssen - Hand Photo

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of this band. From the cover and back, I imagine some overly fuzzed out droning wall of sound music that couldn’t find a genre in the mid 90’s. This is based on the logo font, and the dual-colored bamboo forest cover and Graveyard monument band picture on the back. I know this is not popular, radio music, but 1990 was the year music changed. Just look at the 1990 MTV awards, and you will see it was the year that went out with the old, and in with the new. In any case, as a discount record bin purchase, I’m interested to hear what it contains.

Album Review: So the Holy Rollers got their start opening for Fugazi in a basement in DC somewhere, and are label mates with them and Minor Threat. They are politically charged bridge between punk and alternative rock.

“Eleventy” starts of the album with clanging metal cymbals, dark bass, and screeching guitars. Then fuzzed out guitars begin a wall of sound. The vocals are relaxed, and harmonized, as all members of the band sing. As this was before the majority of alternative music took off, it sounds like it fits in perfectly with zuxxed out rock tracks like Screaming Trees or Flowerhead. There is a musical change toward the end of the song, if only for a few seconds, where the song’s momentum speeds up, like the song is coming out of the darkness, then the bass drags it back down.
“Freedom Asking” has a fast driving guitar, followed by drums that remind me of helmet. The momentum breaks for the chorus, and it sounds a little British, like a dense version of the Posies. I could see this being a fun song to see live. This song possesses a weird hybrid between jangle pop and speed metal.
“Head On” has a funky intro with fuzzy guitars. Vocals are female, but powerful and driving in a monotone fashion (a little like Devo). It has a good prog-metal chorus of vocals for the chorus.
“We” is a driving song with unappealing vocals (to me at least). The revving guitar chords are good.
“Machine” has a watery bass hook at the start, and pounding, pressing drums that are matched by heavy guitars. There are some interesting vocals echoing in the background, but overall, the song kind of drags along. It’s just missing one element to make it really punch effectively.
“Dahlia” has whiney I don’t care vocals at the outset, that build with a melody all their own, into a head banging, metal number, reminding me of the less melodic Life Of Agony stuff. The end of the song feels unnecessarily rushed toward the end.

“Opus” begins the second side with a very watery, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin style bass that gets buried beneath metal guitars and vocals that are trying too hard, but come off a little flat. The song feels like it goes too long, then it just abruptly stops.
“Poison Lung” has a complex driving melody with a couple layers of guitars, a funky bass line, and a solid and steady drum. There is a bit of powerpop at the root of this song, in the chord changes. But again, the vocals just feel a little flat, and uninspired. The end has a very Janes Addiction wind down (before Janes was doing it), and the song is politically charged about the environment, so that’s good.
“Everlast” has loud droaning guitars played in a pop punk fashion. The vocals sound cold and aggressive, and the song really stomps forward with its head down. The chorus is a chanting hard core, call and response style. Immediately following the chorus, the music changes direction to be much more straight forward and driving. There is a big pause, and a much more metal (yet harmonized) chant starts. The song gets back to the initial head down stomp, and ends on a power chord.
“Ode to Sabine County” begins with single syllable chants, and driving metal guitars, which make up the verse. What seems to be an instrumental song then changes after two run throughs, and is becomes much more methodical and dark. This is the song that features the spoken/shouted word anger/political poem by their friend Juliana Luecking. After the line about a black man being beaten to death, the song cycles back to the initial chanting, and drives on to the end.
“Sacred Minds” again feels like a British psychedelic jangle song overlayed on metal guitars and bass. There are some good harmonies here, that get lost in the heavy instrumentation.
“Johnny Greed” is folksy with an acoustic guitar and cymbal tambourine percussion. This feels like a hippie demo of what is in their minds before they add all the heavy shit. This is like stage one, before a song like Sacred Mind and Freedom Asking is a hybrid, then there is the rest of the album. The song kicks it into a higher gear with the chorus of shouting, with feedback and distortion layered underneath as if to give prove to their metal cred.

Stand Out Track: Freedom Asking


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