I’m Just As Bad As You Are
Recommended Track: The Pool
Hollows hail from the San Fernando Valley, the particular Southern Californian valley referenced in pretty much all 80s film and music, and from which the quintessential “valley girl” stereotype originated. Ok, quick history lesson: During the 80s the San Fernando Valley was an economically rich and politically conservative suburb of LA. As more minority groups settled in underdeveloped, low-rent communities nearby, and the tech bubble grew, many families fled to gated communities north and south of the Valley, or to far-flung Republican enclaves like Orange County. Although it has undergone even more significant changes since then, the San Fernando Valley’s sleepy suburban identity endures and despite having been home to the likes of Gram Parsons, members of The Byrds, Neil Young, The Strawberry Alarm Clock, Captain Beefheart, and countless others at one point or another during the 60s, it remains the subject of derision by LA transplants.
This geographical and social isolation from the more, dare I say, happening parts of Los Angeles comes through in Hollows’ first full-length album I’m Just As Bad As You Are. Bookended by “Liars” and “The Pool,” two neo-garage rave-ups with lyrics that focus on the idea of leaving some place, the chorus-effected lead guitar in “All Your Friends” adds an anxious quality to lyrics that describe the frustration felt when a friend of a friend brags about experiences of living in other locales, none of which actually ended up panning out. Following this trio is “818,” a post-punk love song made out directly to the San Fernando Valley and the sometimes sleazy, sometimes mundane experiences it hosts. The lesson to take away here? The Valley is what you make of it. Deeper into the album is “Moldy Thoughts,” a regrettably brief but saccharinely sweet tune with a strong, snaking bass line. It’s the type of jam you can throw onto the b-side of just about any mixtape meant to brighten a cute girl’s day or, alternatively, a song you can mope to when you blow it with that same girl.
Unfortunately, the second half of the album drags a bit and only the title track, easily the most lyrically-ambitious song on the album, proves itself capable of bringing the energy levels back up before falling back into a chill, mid-tempo slump that comes off as being too cool and ineffectual to care if you dig it or not. Nevertheless, Hollows are a bunch of young dudes, so it’s safe to assume they have plenty of steam left in them to build on what they’ve thrown down here in the future, or to just tear it back down and change the game. On March 7th they will be playing the Church on York in LA with the likes of Cherry Glazerr, Froth, and Meat Market. If they keep it up, it may also be safe to assume Hollows will have plenty more eyes on them when they release a follow-up album.