Holler, Wild Rose – Our Little Hymnal

Holler, Wild Rose
Our Little Hymnal

Holler, Wild Rose loves Radiohead. Singer John Mosloskie’s vocals are a near-perfect impression of Thom Yorke, the songwriting employs a lot of Radiohead-type tricks, and the guitar leads are sometimes dangerously close to straight ripping off Jonny Greenwood.
Holler, Wild Rose also loves My Bloody Valentine. They keep the vocals low in the mix and incorporate a lot of swirling guitar noise and keyboards, and drummer Ryan Smith plays a lot like Colm O’Ciosoig.
So what does this mean? It means Holler, Wild Rose sounds a lot like Radiohead through a My Bloody Valentine filter. They’re extremely derivative of their influences, sometimes to a fault, but they’re not the musicians the other guys are. This creates a listening experience that is entertaining at times, kind of embarrassing at others, and never really settles into a happy medium.

Take “Mercy Beat,” for example. The song employs heavy pedal tone usage for the songwriting and features the Thom Yorke vocals, with MBV guitar noise bubbling just under the surface. Unfortunately, since they are neither of these bands, they lack the real chops to take the song to the next level, so you’re just left feeling unfulfilled.
My biggest complaint about this album is that a few of the songs go on entirely too long. They’re not that great to begin with, but some of them feel like they go on forever during extended jams and just flatout overlong songwriting. The most egregious offender is “Poor In Spirit.” Nothing much really happens for the opening 5 minutes or so. It’s mostly Mosloskie singing with the odd piano or guitar chord to move the melody along. Then a sparse drumbeat comes in for another minute and a half, then the song finally picks up steam and is decent for a few minutes. By this point, though, you’re already bored. It’s about 11 minutes all in all. I’d love to be able to give you exact song lengths, but the little internet player I was directed to doesn’t have the times on it.

(That reminds me, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Our Little Hymnal seems to have some cool looking cover art, but I can’t really investigate because Backlight Records didn’t send us a copy of the actual CD. This is a pretty annoying trend that’s been going on of late. I suppose it’s to combat leaks, but seriously, who’s clamoring for the new Holler, Wild Rose so much that the label has to take this strategy? I call shenanigans.)

So I guess, all in all, Our Little Hymnal is an album that sounds like a couple of bands you probably like, but doesn’t really deliver like either of them. While the shorter songs are pretty decent, the long ones often lead you through long, arduous inroads to get to the payoff, which is often not worth it nyway, and let us not forget the giant 11 minute turd in the middle. Maybe if they could figure out how to channel their influences into more compact songwriting, they could do something with themselves, but right now it’s just a big mess I want no part in listening to.