On occasion, a given assignment to review a particular CD requires
some self-disclosure, and this is one of these occasions. I am a Dressy
Bessy fanboy, and have been for quite a while, and I am quite
unabashed in my admiration for this band. That said, I do not consider
Holler And Stomp to be among the band's best recorded output.
In fact, it has to rate as a slight disappointment.
In many ways, Holler And Stomp is not dissimilar to the music
coming out of the Dressy Bessy camp over the last five years. The
record is chock full of powerpop tunes, replete with chunky guitars,
pounding rhythms, occasional slight dissonance between vocals and
lead parts (e.g., the somewhat Pixies-ish song craft of verses
during "Ease Me Down"), and even the odd cowbell or well-placed
sound effect. Musicianship is uniformly excellent, as is production.
The rhythm section, in particular, seems to be in peak form and Tammy
Ealom and John Hill's guitar tones blend with each other
nearly perfectly. In those respects, Holler And Stomp isn't
really all that different than either of the band's previous two albums,
Electrified or Dressy Bessy.
However, the album ultimately comes across a little bit tired at
times. Tammy's voice has taken on a bit of a world-weary character
in parts of this record, and, while the compositions themselves range
from fair to good, very little of the material reaches the songwriting
heights of the triumvirate of "Side 2", "Stop Foolin'",
and "Electrified", which combined to make Electrified
no less than one of the most entertaining albums of 2005.
The above notwithstanding, Holler And Stomp is still a pretty
good album, and a worthy starting point for listeners unfamiliar with
the band. Dressy Bessy have been able to crank out the type of fun
pop confections in the vein of "Automatic" or "Ten
Million Stars" in their sleep, with the level of ease that it
Oven. Album closer "Sindy Says" is a delightful number,
and a throwback to the band's more twee-sounding past. I've managed
to hear the band play around half of the songs on this record in concert,
and the songs do take on a bit more urgency and vibrancy in that environment.
If anything, Holler And Stomp really only suffers in comparison
to the great heights achieved by Electrified. Nevertheless,
repeated listening has done little to alter my perception of a follow-up
that can't quite fill the estimable boots of its predecessor.
-David Meyer (mondogarage)
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