As in the past, I am very happy to announce the newest release from
Pennsylvanians Frog Holler. Their latest record Believe
It Or Not is filled with a similar rootsy-country blues to their
earlier releases and builds upon their signature sound in a way that
shows the band maturing, both as songwriters and as musicians. The
new record has no immediate tunes that rock in the same fashion as
"Berks County Boy" or with the gritty distorted guitars
of "Hades", instead the sound focuses more on a laid-back
front porch groove with just enough grit to be genuine.
Lead vocalist Darren Schlappich's distinctive voice is prominently
featured as on past releases, but his voice has attained a comfort
and smoothness that shows through the mellower tunes he has penned
for this record. "Fundamental Blues" finds him experimenting
and having a little but of fun slipping and sliding around with his
voice while the band plays an earthy, bluesy folk music behind him.
"Honest Bill" is as close as the album comes to rocking;
with its distorted guitars and choppy hooks it sounds like classic
college rock, more a Connells' song than a modern semi-country
tune. "Control Freak (I Know, I Know)" pulls in the banjo
and stompy drums that are what first drew me to Frog Holler, and this
song is just as immediately likeable as the now classic "Sleepy
Eyes". This same porchy vibe is evident on "To Turn Back
Now" which is another great rambling folky tune with the distinctive
Frog Holler acoustic sound. The band turns back to electric on songs
like "Alibis" and the beautifully down-tempo album opener
"Not Like Us", a tune that is built on fantastic lyrics
and backed by great country guitar riffs and a nice organ padding
the entire song.
I admit that I'm torn when it comes to listening to Frog Holler.
One half of me wants them to fully explore the more distorted and
rocking side of alt. country music while the other half of me wants
them to continue to make modern folk music rooted in banjo and acoustic
guitars. I would miss either side of this band if they were to turn
and go one direction only, so I will continue to revel in the two
sides of Frog Holler, as well as in the great songwriting of Schlappich
and the intense musicianship of his cohorts.
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