Hollus
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Hollus

Chicago, Illinois, United States

Chicago, Illinois, United States
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LIVE REVIEW: Hollus - The Mutts
43
The Beat Kitchen // Chicago, IL // Jan. 8, 2010
By: Sasha Geffen
February 2010


Hollus embodies so much '70s Nostalgia I felt like I was watching Almost Famous again. Lead vocalist Jamison Acker even resembles Russell Hammond - he could have walked out of the movie and onto the stage. But Acker adopted the spirit of the ?70s beyond just the aesthetic. He had the attitude, and more importantly, he had the chops and the presence to front the show. Vocalists without instruments don't always know what to do with their hands, but Acker did not hold back, windmilling about the stage amid edgy vocals. Guitarist Michael Lux, looking much like a younger and less creepy Pete Townshend, dominated the Les Paul while harmonizing with Acker and fellow backup vocalist Katie Brandt. These five may seem like period performers, but there's a reason the popularity of classic rock has blazed well into the new millennium. Watching Hollus perform their bluesy, all-American rock felt like a welcome time warp, the kind I used to fantasize about back when I first got into Zeppelin and the like. - Performer Magazine


Known for their epic vocals, dirty guitar riffs, and hard driving drum beats reminiscent of bands like Queens of the Stone Age, Sloan and Wolfmother, Chicago’s Hollus brings all that and more with their six-song amuse bouche for the ears entitled PART ONE. Adding touches of chimey surf-rock to Michael Lux’s guitar, and turning up the bluesy nature of lead singer Jamison Acker’s vocals, the band produces a grimy, mix of blues and surf rock sound with plenty of attitude.

The six-song PART ONE, scheduled for a November 2 release, is the first of two EPs culled from 12 songs the band recorded earlier this summer. we’re still waiting for the release date for PART TWO, but PART ONE is quite a record in it’s own right.

Opening up with arena-rocker, “Midnight”, Hollus sets an impressive tone. Using gritty guitars, heavy driving drums and dirty sounding bass as a contrast to the swaying, chimey surf-rock riffs, Hollus displays extensive talent and control of their music right off the bat. Over it all is Acker’s vast, wailing, tenor voice and Lux’s blasting harmony.

Then there’s “Lucy Grey”, a catchy, rock piece that strays from their normal routine, but can still keep up with all the other massive sounding songs on the album. Mario Coletta’s drumming is impeccable as he seamlessly switches tempo throughout the song. Coletta’s skills are perfectly accented by Colin Mulhern’s driving bass, both setting the foundation for Lux and Acker to take it up a notch with fuzzy guitar riffs and freewheeling vocals.

“Lipstick” is another attention-grabbed that’s slow, sultry and dramatic. Acker builds his passionate vocals around thrashing guitar solos and clean, simple drums. Acker’s vocals peak as he growls, “Got you where they want you” again and again throughout the song.

Although this is just a taste of things to come, Hollus shows once again how much talent and control they can display while creating passionate blues rock with touches of fun surf riffs throughout. As creative as the bands that inspire them, nothing seems off limits for these Chicago rockers as they continue pump out the sweet jams.
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Catch Hollus on Tuesday, September 21, at Empty Bottle! Tickets are available right now at Ticketweb.com for only $7. - Loud Loop Press


Hollus
The Joker & the Queen
2008

In a way it’s unfair to call Bombs and Good Sons false starts. Actually, in several ways it’s unfair. Both are solid albums chock full of bravado and the talent to back it up.
But what Hollus has in its latest incarnation and newest album is a broader vision, comfort in new territory and, by the sounds of it, an even bigger appetite.
It obviously has to do with cooled egos and collective focus – Jamison Acker, Michael Sauer and Matthew Perryman all attest to the ease and camaraderie that produced this batch of songs – but it also has to do with maturing and finally tapping into what made all their favorite records great: tunes.
There are still lots of guitar licks and grooves, but the superfluous stuff that pushed Good Sons into that “Ooh that’s a bit excessive range” have all been stripped away. The result is songs like opener “Horseman” and “One More Road” which essentially explain why CD players (or iPod jacks for all you fancy kids) were put in cars in the first place.
And the ability to look down new alleys – the Sauer-led title track recalls Ronnie Lane’s finer solo moments and Acker’s unabashedly romantic “Krista Lynn” show a side that Hollus has never shown before. It’s about more than just taking out an acoustic guitar once in awhile, you know. It’s about tapping into the tenderness that real feelings bring. A lot of bands that like to have their amps up to 11 all the time still have to figure that out.
Maybe it’s serendipitous that all the songs’ lyrics seem to center on the open road or growing romance. They still can stand up with their competition, but they’re not saying “fuck you” anymore. Instead, they’re saying, “Try this on for size.” And given their longstanding devotion to 1960s and 1970s ethics, maybe that’s fitting.
While Hollus still pride themselves on being able to command a stage, Acker says he prefers the record medium.
“I want to be able to create something that you can listen to thousands and thousands of times,” he said.
And now it sounds like they all want to.
“Another gone lady,” Acker sings in the blinding chorus to “Miss Daisy.” “And there’s another one waiting at the foot of her bed for you.”
Let’s hope so.

--Paul Snyder
Madison, WI

- Paul Snyder


Hollus has done it again.

The band, who is still climbing its way through the Chicagoland music scene, has come out with their third CD, “Joker and the Queen,” offering their signature bluesy rock with a few twists thrown in.

“You could describe us as rock roots and Americana,” said Jamison Acker, the bands vocalist. “We offer all original music on this new CD which offers different vibes from a Zeppelin feel to Appalachian Folksy stuff.”

Acker said it began for him when he was nine years old, growing up in Morris. He could be found singing along with Crosby Stills and Nash, then it progressed as it does with many singers in a small town by singing with the choir, and participating in drama club at Morris Community High School.

It was the move to Chicago that brought Acker together with long time friend and guitarist Michael Sauer and they decided they were going to take the music scene by storm.

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“Mike and I were long time friends and I was in another band,” said Acker. “He came to me and said ‘Let's start a band.' and we did.”

Sauer also hails from Morris as does drummer Matthew Perryman.

Bassist Colin Mulhern joined the band and they were complete, or so they thought.

Recently Katie Brandt has been lending her vocals in the background and Derek Porter has brought another guitar to the mix as well as keyboards, neither officially joining the band but Acker said both can be found sharing the stage with them often.

This band not only brings their talent to the foreground when they perform on stage but they also have behind the scenes talent - and once again recorded all their own songs.

Acker freelances in the film and television production arena when he isn't playing music and Sauer works in student services at the University of Chicago while the other members still attend college.

Acker and Sauer started learning about CD production when they decided to cut their first CD. After sending their third off to be mastered Acker feels they can produce the sound they want as well as anyone.

“We produce our CDs just like any regular recording studio,” said Acker. “Michael has been recording since he was 18, and we've got a good handle on the process.”

Acker said their latest CD has been very much like giving birth to a child, including the 9 months for it to grow from some ideas on paper to a shiny disc.

“Mike came to me with Joker and the Queen in February,” said Acker. “We sat for the next thirteen days together and wrote the rest of the tracks that can be found on the CD.”

In March they began tracking and continued until the end of July. From July until August they continued mixing and cleaned up the tracks and by August they sent it off to be mastered.

The CD is set to be released on Dec. 25 - bringing a Christmas present to fans everywhere.

Prior to the release, Hollus will be playing in Morris at the Tully Monster. They haven't played in Morris for a couple of years and are excited to bring their sound back to their roots.

“We want to show people in Morris we are still here,” said Acker. “And we want to introduce them to our new CD.”

They will also be holding a CD release party at the Cubby Bear in Chicago on December 26.

To hear samples from the new CD you can log on to their myspace at www.myspace.com/hollusmusic . - Heidi Terry-Litchfield


Hollus
2008

"It Won't Stick", the first song I heard from Hollus, did exactly opposite of what the title suggested. It's as gritty as some of the darkest Rock n' Roll music produced during the 60's-70's, yet didn't come across as something re-produced. I still haven't put my finger on what it is, but it's there and a feat only accomplished by a few bands in the present day. Hollus isn't trying to be anything else, they are simply Hollus, a rich, organic, group of fellas, and one lady, offering a batch of songs that represent the real world. People are turning heads and taking a peek at Hollus, if nothing more but to see a band doing it like they used to. But if they start listening, they'll realize Hollus is an undeniable musical force, taking the over-produced world of music that corrupts sound today and giving music fiends around Chicago an exhilarating experience for their ears.

-Second Wave Music
www.secondwavemusic.com - Second Wave Music


Taking a page right out of the legless shenanigans of 70’s legends The Faces comes Hollus, a shit hot new(er) band out of Chicago. For their third album The Joker And The Queen they called in a few favors and enlisted fellow windy city rockers Tod Bowers (bass) and Jeff Massey (guitar) from The Steepwater Band to help out on a few tracks. The Joker And The Queen is nothing short of the perfect summer soundtrack that is richly steeped in southern fried Dixie swamp rock.

The music on The Joker And The Queen not only reveals the work of band firing on all cylinders, but a group of musicians who sound like they’ve been furiously dedicated to honing their songwriting craft just to get to this very point . One listen to the subtle dynamics flowing through the title track and songs like “Honestman” and “Krista Lynn” prove they have indeed arrived. Couple that with the raw, straight ahead blues crunch of “One More Road” and “Sweet Lady Rise”, which features some downright potent slide contributions from the aforementioned Jeff Massey, to the equally raunchy six string work from guitarist Michael Lux on “It Won’t Stick” and “Horseman” and you have one hell of a barnburner of a record on your hands. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention vocalist Jamison Acker who is the master of ceremonies here. His soulful, energetic delivery throughout this record draws comparisons with the Southern charm of Chris Robinson from The Black Crowes.

The Joker And The Queen is flat out what good old fashioned classic rock is supposed to sound like in 2009. The best thing readers of Classic Rock Revisited can do is to get behind Hollus and show their support by going out and purchasing a copy of The Joker And The Queen. This disc could very well be this reviewer’s indie sleeper pick of the year.

-Ryan Sparks, ClassicRockRevisited.com - Classic Rock Revisited


Bombs (2006)

In a lot of ways, Bombs is a typical debut album – there’s a lot of raw energy, a lot of bombast and a lack of seasoned finesse.
Not that that’s a bad thing.
Recorded over what the band remembers as about ten days, the purpose of the album was for the brand new band to work through brand new material, but also just “to get something on tape,” noted guitarist Michael Lux-Sauer.
“We just set up the microphones like we’d seen them in movies,” he said. “We did everything live. We didn’t even have barricades on the amps.”
So maybe the music sounds a little muddy, maybe the vocals are the only really clear thing on it, but it works to their favor. Deeply entrenched in their obvious love of late 1960s and 1970s guitar rock, it sounds like something lifted right off a turntable in a ratty old apartment. Bit of Zeppelin there, bit of Humble Pie there, bit of Faces over here, etc. etc.
But where most bands learn the licks and try to replicate the sound themselves, what Hollus does on Bombs is prove they can deliver on the attitude too. “Walking the Line” is a cocksure opener, while “Foreign Film” sounds like something raided from Steve Marriott’s vault, even down to frontman Jamison Acker’s impassioned screams over the song’s outro.
The unsung hero of proceedings (both literally and figuratively) is drummer Matthew Perryman, who joined the three old friends to anchor their new drive forward.
“I was like the specialist they’d hired,” he said. “But there were no preconceived notions. All I had to do was represent what they wanted and put my own little flair on it.”
And while the record’s obvious dirty rock and roll influence may not have been Perryman’s main bag (he calls himself more of a jazz and Motown/Stax guy), the flavor he added didn’t blend in unnoticed.
“The drums on that record are insane,” Lux-Sauer said.
And so is the rest of the record, really. Slowing things down only twice (“Moving Mountains” and “Blues in Hell Minor”) for some acoustic driven shuffles, Acker even stretches his vocal chords as far as he does on the more raucous moments.
“Everything was really fresh,” he said. “It made the record carry its own excitement.”
And despite its few shortcomings (I’m looking in your direction, intro to “This is Loud”), the record is exciting. Because even without a lack of finesse, it shows Hollus as a tight unit that can talk the talk and walk the walk.


--Paul Snyder
Madison, WI
- Paul Snyder


Good Sons (2007)

Here’s the thing about bands with a 1970s rock fetish: they know too much about rock and roll history in general.
No Led Zeppelin fan just owns all the albums and leaves it at that. They’ll tell you the truth about the shark incident, explain Bonzo’s genius and probably even defend some of Jimmy Page’s highly questionable moves in the last decade.
Rock blogs are their bibles. So you don’t just appreciate bands on a musical level, you learn about everything that went into them, including the egos, excesses and eventual implosions.
Maybe it’s strange that Hollus got to that point barely more than a year into their career. This album was rerecorded three times, is dubbed now by Michael Lux-Sauer as having should’ve been called My Ego Trip and ultimately burned out one of Chicago’s brightest hopes, cost them a bassist, torpedoed their live shows and blew up whatever inner creativity drove them to that point.
Oh, but it’s also a fucking great record.
Sure the sound of a sitar just seven seconds into proceedings probably would raise any cynics eyebrows, but you’re also pressed to take note of the progress Hollus makes on the opening track, “Electrica,” over anything on Bombs. The clarity, the passion, the… Jesus, female backing singers? … it’s all there.
You listen to “Instigator,” “Antique Heart” or “Stella (Don’t Wanna Grow Old Smoke Alarm Blues)” and there’s no audible evidence of strain – indeed, it just sounds like the band found one of those mushrooms in Super Mario World that gave them a bit of size and speed. All the influences from Bombs are there, but now there’s also some Stone Roses and Pink Floyd for good measure (“Sister Sugar,” “Lost in the Tiles”).
“But we were always working under strenuous conditions,” Lux-Sauer noted. “And we kept switching up the songs.”
And with chemical assistance and lady friends becoming a little more ever present, tensions started to brew. By the third time around trying to record the damn thing, passion was gone.
“It was very autopilot,” Acker said. “We’re trying to get in time between jobs and shows, and it just wasn’t working.”
Still, as much as they’re aware of the finished product’s price on the band’s life, both Lux-Sauer and Matthew Perryman cite their “quintessential” Hollus songs on the record (“Gimme Trouble” and “Hold On (Wild Rose),” respectively), and if sometimes you laugh at just what is being peppered on tracks, you can’t help but notice that it’s all sounding really good together.
There is, after all, a difference between adding a sitar to a song for the hell of it and adding a sitar to a song and working it in properly.
“The dreams that we buy from a dusty bag gonna save us from the cares of a fearful mind,” Acker and Lux-Sauer sing at one point. OK, so it didn’t prove immediately true. But what about ultimately?
- Paul Snyder


Words I will not use in this review: revolutionary, raw, and rocking. These are possibly the most overused and wrought words in rock critic history – and unfortunately, rarely do they convey any meaning about a band or its music. Anyway, Hollus is a strictly analog band. You won’t hear any synthesizers, drum machines, or overzealous string arrangements on “Joker and the Queen”. You are much more likely to hear poetic lyrics mixed with a road worn, Tennessean, Kings of Leon/Band of Horses – guitar- rock with a southern drawl. Rugged production values add to the mystique here – it isn’t without flaw – but gets the job done and does it well for a self recorded album. They do sometimes fall into Dave Matthews’ territory – not musically, but within the confines of lyric revelry; as shown on “One More Road” – ‘Getting high just passing the time/Watching girls above/All the time to drink up your wine/I feel sick with love’; but such digressions are forgiven when one begins to understand that Hollus is not a city slicker band trying to make it big in the urban jungle. Instead, they are rural dreamers, allowing the imprint of their lush, created, environments made up of river beds, foreign fogs and other assorted portraits of a true American landscape to shape their sound. Blues inflected rock music that dynamically moves between acoustic and electric guitars blends the real with the surreal comes together and wraps us in a cocoon of heartache. This is Hollus.

- written by Jason Petros
http://chicagosindependentmusicreview.com/?p=548
- Chicago Independent Music Review


Hollus produces the kind of music you can listen to and light unbranded gaspers in a gravel lot with flames consuming the front fenders of your coupe. Their sound has the energetic intensity of 1960s psychedelia with the hard edge of rock that would feel right at home on record and MP3 players alike. Joker and the Queen, the group’s third full-length recording after Bombs (2006) and Good Sons (2007), delivers a cohesive and entertaining tracklist that moves quickly along with laid back good ol’ boy blues and down home country groove.

Each track is not unlike another guest at an awesome outdoor party or barnyard kegger. “Krista Lynn” generates heartbreak in harmony, is soft without being sappy but always energetic; emotive without the overtly introspective and undercooked lyrics that so often stand in for soul or expression. “Honestman” really is real honest, man, like being let down gently after an awesome but not overwhelming ride, only to get back in line. The relaxed percussion and echoic effects on the guitar create an unhurried and earnest impression that adds to the timeless appeal of the album’s overall. There is not so much sentiment in “J.A.T.Q.” as there is a bridled celebration, unrestrained when it wants to be but also able to rein in and rock slow.

Though lyrics aren’t always entirely intelligible, the performative intensity translates onto the album with tracks like “It Won’t Stick,” where the hook sounds like: “Don’t be shy, you can clear the smoke with a single eye”. The image of anyone entering a bar and dissipating the smoke with his or her own aura is amazing, but it’s entirely possible I’ve confused the words. And perhaps appropriately so. According to the Internet’s foremost etymological authority (Urbandictionary.com), hollus is “the only word in Chicago that doesn't have a definition i.e. ‘What the fuck does hollus mean?’” If “J.A.T.Q” is any indication, clearly Hollus means to rock your motherloving socks off.

“J.A.T.Q” is gritty and melodic, high-energy but modulated often, robust and rough and like always alluring as Chicago itself. I can imagine double agents and drug dealers advertising respective points of rendezvous with catch-phrases from the album or G-Men in bulging double-breasted pinstripes about to make a bust with all kinds of chrome admiring the whitewalls. Hollus have put together an album that’s thoroughly enjoyable and only increases more so with every subsequent listen.

Hollus take to the road today and kick off a tour across Illinois, Indiana and Missouri, playing upwards of eight shows in the next week alone. Check their website (www.hollus.net) for more info.

-Diego Baez - Heave Media


Discography

Bombs (2006) streams on Jamendo.com
Good Sons (2007) streams on Jamendo.com
Joker And The Queen (2008) Streams on ilike.com
Lucy Grey/Songs That You Love[spilt-single]Mar 2010 listen at hollus.net

Part One (2010) coming November 2nd
Part Two (2011) coming February 2011

"One More Road" featured on Chicago's WXRT Local Anesthetic

additional material at hollus.net
also available for purchase at hollus.net

Photos

Bio

HOLLUS is a band that thrives on the next step. The group stayed busy traveling throughout 2009. While dotting across the Midwest performing their garage blues anthems from “Joker And The Queen” (2009), Hollus had begun solidifying the sound that would become their heady follow-up.

Composing the songs on the road and solidifying them in their home studio, Singer Jamison Acker and Guitarist Michael Lux’s influences (jangly pop, garage fuzz, surf, film noir) joined to forge a work with themes of fate, hope, and mystery. Acker describes it as “The kind of songs we’ve always wanted to write.” Never losing the DIY spirit, Hollus recruited their own Colin Mulhern (bass) to run the boards at Chicago’s Rax Trax Studio.

In March, the group released an advanced split single for “Lucy Grey” and “Songs That You Love” at their Lincoln Hall show with Company of Thieves, and followed it up with a hazy psychedelic summer music video for the former. The group has been playing dates throughout the country since.

Hollus is poised to release a new collection of songs, HOLLUS/PART ONE on November 2nd, with PART TWO to follow in February 2011. The group also plans on releasing as many as 3 more self-produced music videos in this time, and continuing to move the masses with their universal spin on ambient, powerful pop music.