Lindsay Holler's Western Polaroids
There's an eeriness within the beauty on singer Lindsay Holler's latest collection. She and her Western Polaroids pack plenty of heart, fragility, and emotion into this mini-album of six songs.
Holler and her crew — drummer Nick Jenkins, bassist Ben Wells, keyboardist Sam Sfirri, and guitarist Bill Carson — strengthened their musical chemistry over the last year or so. From the grand arrangements to the individual performances, the Polaroids put forth their best to song. Produced by Josh Kaler in his new studio Hello Telescope (a very new facility in the scene, previously called The Lions Den), the high quality of sound on Helltembre is rich, deep, and clear. If her 2007 solo collection Love Gone Awry was the kindergarten stage for this band, Helltembre is the fancy debutante ball.
"Keep Bleeding" opens the set with a simple kick/snare beat from Jenkins and a pulsating bass line from Wells. Holler sounds as if she's just woken up during the first lines of the first verse. The song crescendos from a drowsy nod into hellacious harmonies with everyone chanting, "I don't know how to tell you!" Mercy.
The rhythm section kicks off the next tune, too, building "Forever Always" up from a few sliding and staccato deep-toned notes on an upright bass and the constant rattle of a pair of bundle-sticks tapping a quick-tempo 2/4 rhythm into something more atmospheric.
The band practically crashes a tent revival service on the fast and raucous "Junk Gospel #1," on which Holler cries out, "Come quick ... there's another one down!" Cool horror-show organ riffs call-and-respond to some of Carson's most rockabilly solos ever recorded.
The slow-swingin' title track pulls back to a more familiar pace. Strummy and melodic, "Helltembre" is clever and morose. Sfirri's jangly electric piano emulates the chiming vibraphones of Holler's previous work. The melodica adds texture to the rich instrumentation as well.
The tipsy waltz beat, oompah band guitar, and circus pit snare drum work of "Onto Me" lead into even more carnivalesque noise (whistles, cymbals, vibes, car keys?). "No one's around, tomorrow is now, we'll drink yesterday into the ground," the entire Polaroid gang bellows boozily.
On the melancholic "Bad Reputation," Holler's raspiest ballad of the collection, she conjures a lonely character who denies being a "blue-eyed angel," admits having a "difficult nature," settles the whiskey tab for her closest friends, and yearns to earn genuine love "These late nights and bar lights don't bring me no peace/I just want a man who loves me for me," she sings.
If the good ones hear any of this non-hellish stuff, she'll surely end up with too many to handle. (myspace.com/lindsayholler)