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Frog Holler
Believe It Or Not
(self-released)
www.frogholler.com


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.

-Embo Blake

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