Sunday, 17th June 2018. 5:51:51pm ET
Reviews CD Reviews Gothic Johnny Hollow- Johnny Hollow


Artist: Johnny Hollow
CD Title: Johnny Hollow
Label: Pop Off Records
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Date: 4/1/04

The self-titled full-length debut of Johnny Hollow, an unconventional 3-piece band with a focus on electro-acoustics and processed cello, is an immaculately produced, haunting, and extremely impressive and original album. It's glaringly apparent that Johnny Hollow is a group made up of overachievers, not settling for anything short of perfection, with careful attention paid to even the very smallest detail. The songwriting, performances, and production are all top notch (perhaps even a notch above the top). Even the album's artwork, by member Vincent Marcone, is unusually exceptional, with a fold out booklet full of haunting imagery and detailed, layered artwork with a moody ethereal vibe that perfectly matches the band's music.

Consisting of 11 proper songs (12 if you count the *cough* hidden bonus track *cough*) and 5 short interludes/intros, the album's material ranges from haunting, ethereal songs with creepy pianos, layers of beautiful cello, and horror film atmospheric elements to moody alt rock/pop/trip hop material with unusual instrumental arrangements to songs bordering on industrial and anywhere in between. Overall, though, the band specializes in dreamlike reverb-drenched dirges that converge into an album that often sounds like a sonic depiction of one of the more twisted Brothers Grimm fairytales. All members contribute electro-acoustic elements, while things are aesthetically and melodically based around the cello and keyboards of Kitty Thompson as well as the keyboards and guitar of Janine White. The band's music is complimented by extremely well-written, intelligent lyrics that utilize both male and, more frequently, female lead vocals, courtesy of Marcone and White, to great effect.

The album kicks off with "Bag of Snow", a moody ethereal track that sports a snaking piano melody, plodding electronic drums, and Poe-like vocals. It is followed by "Halfway to God", a dark track with exceptionally effective spoken male vocals, cascading piano riffs, and moody cello accents. "Rasputin", one of the best tracks found here, is a dark, fairly unsettling piece that is both sonically and vocally reminiscent of Siouxsie & the Banshees. "Motherless Child" is a fairly simple yet effective cello-centered arrangement of the traditional tune (that some of you may be familiar with from Martin Gore's version on the Counterfeit EP). "Gone" quite possibly captures the essence of what a proper collaboration between Trent Reznor and Tori Amos might sound like, while the distorted cello, female vocals, and steady electronic percussion of "Stolen", the album's most aggressive track, could easily pass for Rasputina. "Mary", while oddly starting out with a James Bond theme-esque melody, quickly breaks into a moody organ-accented trip hop song with shades of Switchblade Symphony and Recoil (albeit arguably better than both). "Dark Thing" (which also appears in remixed form as the album's *cough* secret bonus track *cough*) is a beautiful slow-paced ethereal song that soon breaks into an ethereal trip hop number accented by some great melodic and atmospheric cello work. The excellent "Shock Me Peter", a slow-paced track centering around spoken male vocals, sports one of the most beautiful chorus melodies on the album, while "Skeleton Song" is a moody, theatrical, dreamlike track with Siouxsie-esque vocals. "Tremor" is a beautifully arranged track with an intimate atmosphere contrasted by moments of orchestral grandeur, accented by a very memorable simple piano riff reminiscent of Tori Amos. The creepy out-of-tune layered cellos, ambient keyboards, and processed sounds of the short interludes and intros found between the proper songs add the perfect accent to the album and help to make it a nicely flowing, extremely cohesive work.


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