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"Review: “Big Black Clouds EP,” by Holstein"

(URL: http://thederosh.wordpress.com/2008/10/02/review-big-black-clouds-ep-by-holstein/)

Two-thousand and eight is a year the members of Holstein would much rather forget, save for one thing: It gave them one hell of a lot of fodder for songwriting. If the adage is true that from great pain comes great art, the melodic indie group could open a museum tomorrow. Highlighted (if that word can be used in this context) by death outside the band and near-death within it, the group put together its five-song Black Clouds EP intent on achieving reflection and catharsis. The result is an album that lets you enjoy the music while never letting you forget the dark places it came from.

Singer Jared Baehr tears through the last 30 seconds “Dishonorable Mention” with the unmistakable ferocity of someone backed into a corner whose only way out is to throw haymakers until everyone backs away. “Big Black Clouds” hits with an electric-guitar tone that could best be described as apocalyptic, and the lyrics take it up even another notch: “Give me strength, Lord, give me grace/get the fuck out of my face.”

Oy. So the music isn’t exactly John-Hughes-movie-level perky, but the band plays its material with focus, confidence and attention to craft. Drummer Chris Bivens is a constant draw of attention, alternating between spare and ominous and loud and unpredictable. Baehr’s injections of keyboard and piano give elegance to the lyrics’ rough-hewn internal monologue. “If I could close my eyes and it be over/I would,” he sings over and over to heartbreaking string accompaniment. The same can’t be said for the album, which deserves repeated listening, even if the dark subject matter may keep it from making it to the top of many people’s “Most Played” iTunes lists. That’s okay; rainy-day records are called that for a reason. Holstein is a good band in the middle of a bad year, and it has made an album reflective of both the band’s abilities and what it has been through. Once the clouds break, it will be on to even better things. - TheFourFour.com


Big Black Clouds EP (2008)
Blood On James River LP (Slated Spring/Summer 2009)



Holstein is the brain child of Jared Baehr. What started in 2004 as a solo musical project in the confines of his own mind, has now erupted into a chaos of loud guitars, driving beats, and melody with a purpose. The message that is spread by this band is loud and clear and should not be ignored. The stories they tell are of hard times and overcoming our fears and misconceptions of time and life. At the time of the recording for the Big Black Clouds EP, the band consisted of Jared on guitar and vocals, Ben on bass and vocals, and Chris on drums and vocals. Shortly after the release, Nate (who actually co-founded the band) joined the ranks on guitar and keys. Now with a rock steady line-up these guys are out to spread the Gospel.