The Black Hollies with Trummors @ Cafe Nine 3/8/2014

It’s difficult to reconcile that The Black Hollies have been around for almost a decade, forming in 2005 and releasing their first LP Crimson Reflections in the spring of 2006.  Then again, it’s been 4 years since their last album, Softly Toward the Light, released in the fall of 2009.  Somewhere Between Here and Nowhere, their fourth release on Brooklyn based label Ernest Jenning, is a mature and introspective album that leaves the saccharine sweet melodies of “Everything’s Fine” behind in favor of tracks that mesh cohesively together following the script of what feels more like a concept album than a 60’s inspired garage-pop record.  Despite the recent successes of Somewhere Between Here and Nowhere (#23 on CMJ in December of 2013), The Black Hollies have not toured to the same extent they had in support of their first two records, playing shows sporadically along the east coast. However, on March 8th at Café Nine in New Haven, CT The Black Hollies were in rare form.

Opening the evening with an absolutely exquisite set was the psych-folk duo of Anne Cunningham and David Lerner (Ted Leo and the Pharmacists) better known as Trummors.  Also on Ernest Jenning, Trummors showcased some new material for their sophomore follow-up to the 2012 release Over And Around The Clove.  The minimal chords and subtle tones that whirred from Anne’s harmonium wove the sonic layers on top of which Lerner’s picking and strumming provided the nuances.  Like their respective instruments the two traded vocal parts while coming together for haunting and elusive harmonies.  It was a stunning set and selfishly I hope it’s a sign of what’s to come, that is, a bit more psychedelic than folky.  Then again, listening to the folk heavy Over And Around The Clove on repeat over the past couple of days has served my constitution well.

After a solid set by local favorites The Mountain Movers, The Black Hollies filled the small stage with personnel, effects pedals, and of course their signature Farfisa Compact organ, manned by one time Rye Coalition axman Jon Gonnelli.  With Ashley Anderson Morey taking over bass duties for her partner Justin Angelo Morey (Rye Coalition), who maintains lead vocals and adds a rhythm guitar, the band has now grown to five.  Herbert Willey (Rye Coalition) maintains lead guitar duties with Nick Ferrante on drums who opened the set with a rattling of floor tom, snare, and bass drum ushering in the anthemic “Wake Me When It’s Over”.  To avoid tuning delays and instrument switches the band droned noisily but effectively from one track to the next for the first four songs which along with the opening track included Unless It’s My Imagination, Benevolent Beacon, and Somewhere Between Here and Nowhere all from the album of the same name.  The only pause was when Jon Gonnelli picked up his six-string and grabbed the mic for Eyes of Mermaid off of their debut album Crimson Reflections.  The band followed with three more tracks off of their latest album with No Illusion and Lunatic Influenza parts II and III.

If The Black Hollies happen to be playing in your neck of the woods be sure to check them out as tour dates are sporadic and you’ll want to catch these cats live.  They’ll be playing at Rough Trade NYC in Brooklyn, NY w/ Allah-Las and Spires on March 27th, 2014, don’t miss it!

Setlist:

  1. Wake Me When It’s Over
  2. Unless It’s My Imagination
  3. Benevolent Beacon
  4. Somewhere Between Here and Nowhere
  5. Eyes of Mermaide
  6. No Illusion
  7. Lunatic Influenza II
  8. Lunatic Influenza III