The Black Hollies fourth album and first in four years will transport the attentive and discerning listener to a place beyond the overstated era of Psychedelia and Garage Rock, to a far more contemporary and parallel vista. The Black Hollies carve out a space that allots for influences and inspirations to flourish but scoffs at derivation and simple facsimile. There’s no question that the Sixties saw a ubiquitous employment of reverb, vibrato, and tremolo to create a sound that defined an entire decade. However, to pigeon hole a contemporary group who appreciate carefully crafted low-frequency oscillation is just plain short sighted.
From the first twenty-second synth loop of the opening track “No Illusion”, Justin Angelo Morey, Herbert Joseph Wiley V, Jon Gonnelli, Nick Ferrante (White Hills) embark on an aural odyssey where lyrics, instrumentation, and effects all play an equally essential role in defining their pilgrimage. Where “No Illusion” and “Unless It’s My Imagination” thrust the listener without hesitation into a frenetic world of hypnotic head bobbing, “Benevolent Beacons” and “Daydreams” usher in a state of introspection and self-awareness. Then, right on cue, comes the anthemic title track “Somewhere Between Here and Nowhere”, setting the scene:
Under the overpass down by the sound, we’ll be the only ones.
Forget about your troubles ‘cause there’s no one around; we’ll be the only ones.
As with any great film, location is paramount, and Jersey City has always been a source of pride for the members of The Black Hollies dating back to Justin, Jon, and Herb’s days in Jersey’s finest, Rye Coalition. Two of my favorite tracks on this album, “When It’s Time To Come Down” and “Where Do We Go From Here,” each in their own way bring me to a place as filmically iconic as Casablanca, Monte Carlo, or Manhattan. Although there’s no explicit mention of Jersey City in these tracks, “here” and “home” are poetic references to a place so essential to each member. There is of course a nod to New Jersey in all caps in the title of the final track on the album and in the three-part “Lunatic Influenza Pt. III: PATH Into The Sun”.
There’s no question of intent and artistry in each and every one of Morey’s lyrics, Wiley’s riffs, Gonnelli’s chords, and Ferrante’s beats. Somewhere Between Here and Nowhere is a mature recording from veteran musicians produced during a time when craft is often overlooked in favor of glossy engineering and post-production.
MP3: The Black Hollies “When It’s Time To Come Down”