Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Review: The Hollowpoints - "Old Haunts on the Horizon"
Fresh off the heels of their phenomenal contribution to the recent Swingin’ Utters tribute, Seattle, Washington’s the Hollowpoints make their Sailor’s Grave debut with one of the best and most surprising releases yet this year. It probably shouldn't come as a surprise, though, as the band has amassed a dizzying 10 releases in the last five years (on labels like Dirtnap and Disaster Records), and evidently proven enough to tour alongside legendary bands like the Business and the U.S. Bombs.
With vocals by lead singer Matt Mckinney that recall Dillinger Four’s Erik Funk, an undulating skatepunk rhythm that rarely lets up and an aesthetic lyrical and stylistic approach that puts them alongside bands like One Man Army and the Briefs, the Hollowpoints are no easy act to pigeonhole. Perhaps the most discernible quality the band puts forth on Old Haunts on the Horizon is their seemingly unyielding ability to garnish their compositions with pleasing progressions and candy-coated melodies that sit lightly on top of the music and breeze by comfortably.
From the opening riffs of “Runaway” through the impossibly catchy “Shea Politika” and closer “Keep the Bubble in the Middle,” the Hollowpoints toggle between Dead to Me, Swingin’ Utters and a hint of the Dickies without rooting themselves in any particular influence. Their two-guitar approach (“new” since 2006) produces a warmth and interplay that glazes a smooth finish around each one of the tunes, and Mckinney’s melodies never descend from ebullience. Even when lamenting personal trials and cautionary tales, the lofty pitch emanates cheerily as on “Nameless”: “Saturday, it feels like shit / But no one ever quits / [...] / The funny thing about abuse / Or the way we use ain't there / I don’t remember yesterday / Don’t remember anything.”
Gang and background vocals on the poppy speedster “Falling Up Stairs” embellish the song with a more dense but still tender quality, while its impressive guitar soloing further aids the melodies. The similarly-layered “Service Is Our Business” is as political as it is catchy, as Mckinney proclaims, “Iraq’s been pigeonholed / the new age oil drill / Just shut up and take your pill.”
The only two tracks that keep Old Haunts on the Horizon from bordering on perfection are “God Save Anna Nicole,” which is a little inane, and “No Name,” which takes aim at the always-easy target of fashion punks. Even with small complaints present, the quality and fun of this album cannot be denied. It may have taken 10 releases for the Hollowpoints to get the attention they deserve, but this band clearly has what it takes to make their mark in punk rock.