11 Songs, 40 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Named for a character in a Bob Dylan tune, New York City’s Hollis Brown proves itself ready for the big leagues on its debut album. Ride on the Train takes inspiration from Beggars Banquet–era Stones, Tupelo Honey–era Van Morrison, and various phases of The Band, yet it never sounds derivative. Lead singer/songwriter Mike Montali has a gnarly yet tender voice that’s well-matched with Jon Bonilla’s muscular and versatile lead guitar work. Hollis Brown’s songs are full of spiky edges that don’t disguise their strong melodic content. Adding to the band's appeal is the underlying compassion in its lyrics, evident amid the jaunty snarl of “Down on Your Luck,” “Nothing & the Famous Ones," and the title track. Montali gets desperate in “Doghouse Blues” and unleashes a howl of political protest in “Walk on Water,” balancing his ferocity with scruffy love songs like “When the Water’s Warm” and “If It Ain’t Me.” “Gypsy Black Cat” and “Nightfall” carry a hint of gospel, bringing out the life-affirming essence within Hollis Brown’s raw-boned, heartfelt brand of roots rock.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Named for a character in a Bob Dylan tune, New York City’s Hollis Brown proves itself ready for the big leagues on its debut album. Ride on the Train takes inspiration from Beggars Banquet–era Stones, Tupelo Honey–era Van Morrison, and various phases of The Band, yet it never sounds derivative. Lead singer/songwriter Mike Montali has a gnarly yet tender voice that’s well-matched with Jon Bonilla’s muscular and versatile lead guitar work. Hollis Brown’s songs are full of spiky edges that don’t disguise their strong melodic content. Adding to the band's appeal is the underlying compassion in its lyrics, evident amid the jaunty snarl of “Down on Your Luck,” “Nothing & the Famous Ones," and the title track. Montali gets desperate in “Doghouse Blues” and unleashes a howl of political protest in “Walk on Water,” balancing his ferocity with scruffy love songs like “When the Water’s Warm” and “If It Ain’t Me.” “Gypsy Black Cat” and “Nightfall” carry a hint of gospel, bringing out the life-affirming essence within Hollis Brown’s raw-boned, heartfelt brand of roots rock.

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