Review: Hollis Brown – In The Aftermath

Review: Hollis Brown – In The Aftermath

Mascot Label Group/Cool Green Recordings (February 4th 2022)

Reviewer: Chris O’Connor

The Rolling Stones ‘Aftermath’ was my second ‘Stones purchase as a kid, I would have been 10 or so, the first had been ‘High Tides & Green Grass’ about a year earlier. It’s funny that I can even remember where I bought the album, in a little record shop in the village of Martock in Somerset – genuinely a lifetime ago. Anyway, I digress – sort of.

Three years on from Hollis Brown’s ‘Ozone Park’, and finding themselves thoroughly fed up during lockdown, the New York band headed into the country for an all-night, alcohol fuelled recording session, where they recorded their own version of the ‘Stones ’66 studio album – which was the English band’s first American release … so there you go. If you’re unfamiliar with ‘Aftermath’ – it featured the huge hits ‘Paint It Black’, ‘Under My Thumb’, and ‘Lady Jane’, so was very much a milestone for the band worldwide.

First things first: this is not a band faithfully recording note for note their idols music, it’s very ragged, rough and ready, and I’m pretty sure it was recorded ‘live’ as such. To call this ‘organic’ sounding would be a colossal understatement, it could not be more analogue. This is the sound of a band simply flying by the seat of their collective pants, simply playing music they obviously love with carefree abandon.

The album is played exactly in the order that it was originally recorded, so kicks off with the aforementioned ‘Paint It Black’, and from the start, the band captures the raw excitement and earthiness of the early ‘Stones, but with their own unique sound mixed neatly in. ‘Lady Jane’ is nothing short of exquisite, if anything, it’s even more achingly beautiful than even the original – and I don’t make that statement lightly.

Under My Thumb’ has that lovely Fender Rhodes keyboard sound that made the original so classic, Hollis Brown imbues it with a genuine urgency and groove that is nothing short of sublime. Vocalist/guitarist Mike Montali has a voice that is not a million miles from Mick Jagger’s – so there is a real authenticity to the originals here. His bandmates: Jonathan Bonilla (guitars), Chris Urriola (bass guitars), and Andrew Zehnal (drums) play their parts to perfection, never overplaying nor overthinking, just allowing the music to swing.

You don’t need to be a ‘Stones aficionado to love this album, that’s the joy of ‘In The Aftermath’ – you just have to love REAL Rhythm & Blues, and Americana – that will make this enticing enough for you to want to get high on this (musically speaking of course!). Just listen to the frantic album coda ‘Goin’ Home’ – here is the band almost running on exhausted whiskey fumes – it’s fabulously anarchic in its own right, and as such is a wonderfully ragged ending. Splendid stuff. Now can we have a new album of original music too please?