I don’t normally go for this kind of music – that country-folk-rock, Bob Dylan thing. But this is different. This is rock, sort of, this is bluegrass, in a way, and this is genuine Americana. It’s good music, excellent lyrics and interesting vocals. Yeah – I think I like Frog Holler and their new CD Haywire.
Haywire is an interesting twist of country-folk-rock and bluegrass-alt.country-indie-rock. But unlike many cross genre bands Frog Holler have made it work. This hybrid album has tracks that are more indie, some that are more Americana/bluegrass but all with Frog Holler’s unique sound.
The first track on the album is a very good example of that original Frog Holler twist. “Hades” has indie rock guitar combined with frontman Darren Schlappich's unusual bluegrass-ish vocals and down-home lyrics. Those all together are a very good example of what make Frog Holler so singular.
“One Last Time” is a straight out indie rock track; but as with the first track it has the self-same down-home lyrics and distinctive vocals. Schlappich has a strong, deep, (I can’t believe I’m going to use this word) warbling voice which is rich and multi-tonal – very Tennessee bluegrass.
The more Americana than not “On Winter Blues” is a lovely country style ballad with steel guitar and Schlappich’s charming vocals and lyrics. They create a warm, cosy, honeyed-whisky song that feels comfortable and laid back.
The title track “Haywire” is a masterpiece. Frog Holler combine melodic vocals, beautiful, compassionate lyrics, banjo, acoustic, steel and electric guitar in what must be one of the most deceptively intricate songs ever. It starts off as a straight forward acoustic guitar song and slowly builds, adding instruments one after the other until reaching the delightful, arresting harmonious climax.
“Sight Unseen” is a divergent mix of old rock (think Lynyrd Skynyrd) alt.country with a sense of humour. With sudden bursts of power rock and a guitar line that draws you through the song like a stranger offering you candy. The overall effect is captivating and my personal favourite.
In fact, I think captivating is a very good word for this entire album. Or you could try elaborate, bewitching, charming, creamy, and textured. That pretty much sums up Haywire which is a fabulous indie rock, alt.country future classic. And I believe Frog Holler are destined for greatness.
If you would like to hear any of the songs I have reviewed you can listen to them on Frog Holler’s MySpace webpage.