The Black Hollies feature three-fifths of Jersey City's Rye Coalition, but don't expect Casting Shadows, the trippy-covered Ernest Jenning release to match Rye Coalition's dirty rock. The Black Hollies play a blend of psychedelic and 60s garage-pop, complete with flowery imagery, sweet harmonies, and fuzzy guitar interludes.
The album shifts between fuzzed out psychedelic and group harmony pop, with the stronger moments being those that hint toward garage rock. After a forgettable "Whispers Beneath the Willows" starts the record, a catchy bass/drum opening on "Paisley Pattern Ground" picks up the tempo and gets things rocking. Generally speaking, the album alternates between the two different styles, fuzzy and then poppy-rock, back to fuzzy. Unfortunately, the spacey songs lose my interest and nothing really sticks out until the harmonic "Hamilton Park Ballerina," which sounds like a Scooby-Doo chase song, but with subtle dirty rock'n'roll lying just underneath its saccharine melody. The same goes for "Bruised Tangerines," featuring organ and electric sitar, but I can't shake the '60s imagery, and based on the song's title the imagery is The Black Hollies' primary intention.
"That Little Girl," sounds straight out of the 60s, with pure sappy about-a-girl sweetness: "I need your love / Yes, indeed / I need your love / Im beggin' pleas e/ I need your love / Day and nigh t/ I need your love / Its outta sight." The music matches the lyrics, and you can picture the object of affection "shaking it the way she does" for two-and-half minutes. It's followed by another poppy love piece, "If You Won't Let Go," with hooky guitars that somehow reminds me of "Hello, I Love You." While neither of these songs is particularly striking in the originality department, they capture The Black Hollies at their strongest: offering catchy 1960s pop, resplendent with period imagery. There's just enough pent-up energy in the rhythm section and I suspect the live act exceeds the record in expressing this.
The lyrical imagery and throwback art - from the acid-wash cover to the booklet layout with management contacts and a descriptive band paragraph on the back of the CD - the whole thing feels a little too manufactured as a revival piece instead of a forward-thinking album. While I appreciate the remembering-another-era-of-rock, let's not forget that these Jersey City residents aren't actually living in the 1960s. It's cute, but Casting Shadows brings nothing new to the table.
With a track listing as listed below, and lyrics proclaiming, "The colors and the shapes / Really move me to the sounds," it is safe to judge the book by the cover.
1. Whispers Beneath the Willows
2. Paisley Pattern Ground
3. Under a Winter's Spell
4. The Autumn Chateau
5. Hamilton Park Ballerina
6. Bruised Tangerines
7. That Little Girl
8. If You Won't Let Go
9. Running Through My Mind
10. Patient Sparrow
5.5 / 10
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