Shadwick Wilde, frontman for Louisville, Kentucky’s Quiet Hollers seems like a man who immerses himself in a number of things. These things may include books/poetry, multiple musical genres and likely, booze.
On this, their sophomore record, Quiet Hollers take us on a hazy, aural trip through lo-fi indie rock, droning post-punk and ’90s alternative, all the while maintaining a southern, countrified undertone. Wilde’s esoteric wordplay works well with his music, bringing an imaginative narrative to the the band’s stylish sounds of gloom.
While some lyricists attempts to be aloof sound like contrived, made up nonsense, one gets the sense that Wilde has spent his share of hours reading classic literature and other writings of down and out authors. He comes across as a storyteller who is being himself and the result is unpretentious. “Midwest” is a perfect example with its story of so many who leave small towns to pursue a more cosmopolitan life, only to fall to chemicals and unrealized dreams. The sad violin on the track brings it all to life.
As with other bands in this vein (The Handsome Family, Grant Lee Buffalo) that spin odd, rural tales, Quiet Hollers create an atmosphere that seems partly based in reality and perhaps a bit in country myth. It is reality that the band recorded under unusual circumstances; the record was made during the hot Kentucky summer above a working funeral home while drummer Nick Goldring pounded out his parts while in a neck brace, a result of a waterfall diving accident.
“Cote d’Azure”, the first single from the record paints a picture of a lonely business traveler dreaming of a better experience in France with someone he loves. The mundane lyrics given poetical attention ring out as a sort of alt-country Death Cab For Cutie. Vivid snapshots like this are found throughout including “My whole life they’ve been talking about the big one/but I never thought I’d see the day/when a tidal wave worthy of biblical remembrance had come to wash this whole city away” from the REM-esque “Flood Song” and “Who puts these hurdles in my way/spreading me so thin over every day/and I can’t be held to the things I say/behind my aviator shades” from opening track, “Aviator Shades.”
There is an air of Band of Horses in Quiet Hollers’ sound. But, while the former brings often bright country-tinged rock to the forefront, Quiet Hollers are their saddened, less commercial-sounding cousins. Producer Keven Ratterman (Grace Potter, My Morning Jacket) has helped the band achieve a sound that feels as if had originated through booze-soaked, southern summer days where something is inexplicably off in the atmosphere. The resulting feverish feeling of sun mixed with drink seems to inspire words out of a Kerouac novel with music that sounds as if it is being played second nature, guided by a country trance.
Even in the record’s bright, hooky moments such as “No Good,” the sense of introspective melancholy is present- and it’s a very good thing that it is. “Departure” closes out the album with a re-energized feeling of stepping out to the light after a year of hallucinations in the pitch dark. The galloping cadence of the song leaves the listener with the feeling of moving briskly down the road before heading again into a stream of consciousness.
With so many bands adopting the alt-country sound since the early ’90s, it seems a daunting task to make a mark in that genre. While Quiet Hollers have adopted that sound and more, they have a unique mixture of sounds and instruments that set them apart from the masses, even if there is nothing truly new under the sun.
Top Tracks: Cote d’Azure/No Good
Quiet Hollers – Quiet Hollers CD Review/ 2015 /10 Tracks/