Hollerado burst onto the scene in 2010 with the impossibly catchy single “Americanarama”, with its equally memorable video spoofing American Apparel founder Dov Charney (played by Kids in the Hall comedian Dave Foley). This was off their debut album Record in A Bag, the Ottawa foursome’s first studio album with Royal Mountain Records, a re-release of their original self-released album, which in turn was a result of their 2008 EP, Demo in a Bag 5 – apparently released in a literal sandwich baggie!
They had previously drawn attention by winning the $25,000 grand prize in Ottawa’s Live 88.5’s Big Money Shot battle-of-the-bands competition, a win that helped foot the bill for initial equipment and touring expenses.
Since then Hollerado have become a Juno-nominated, music-fest-hopping, tour-opening indie force to be reckoned with…and now they have a new album.
White Paint is an eleven-track effort, with a release date set for February 26, which is just shy of two weeks past Valentine’s Day. This is just as well, because a song like “Desire” can certifiably be called the anti-Valentine anthem.
“Desire! It’s just a chemical/It comes and it goes and it comes and it goes/Desire, sometimes it’s good enough/It comes and it goes and it comes and it goes…”
With their recognized blend of energetic, edgy vocals and frantic riffs, paired with upbeat, rhythmic drumming, the album offers a dynamic sound occasionally at odds with the melancholy lyrical content. For instance, in “Thanks for the Venom”, frontman Menno Versteeg sings,
“Oh, we could be friends, but you are a rattlesnake/(ooh)/Thanks for the venom/Oh, we could be friends, but you are a rattlesnake (you are a rattlesnake)/…We had a simple love, as simple as nature gets/You were my friend, but you were a rattlesnake.”
But speaking of lyrics, Hollerado continues to show a talent for bitingly precise observations of modern life and relationships, like “Pure Emotion”,
“Ooh, if your love is like an empire/Baby, I’ll wait for your ships to come home/And if your heart is like a kingdom/Honey, I’ll wait for the walls to come down/I want a chance to say I told you so/Let pure emotion take it take it home…/I tried…not to forget/Pure emotion is not safe in our hands.”
And with “Fresno Chunk (Digging With You)”, the lyrics tell a story of a woman who gets by scavenging through junk piles for things to sell, and who waits in vain for her estranged son to respond to the letters she writes. The song, sung from the perspective of the narrator meeting this woman, ends with a twist in the final verse, but another song, “So It Goes”, contains one of the most thoughtful observations this side of the pop charts:
“You can’t make peace without an enemy/You can’t be forgiven without sin/We’re all looking for a love that’s gonna set us free/But first you must forgive the man you’ve been…”
At first listen, White Paint sounds like an experimental record, with electronic loops and audio debris littering the soundscape in parts of the album, from intro song “Wonder, Velocity, Charlie and Me”, which begins with a whirring sound like helicopter blades slowing down, and overlapping voices, before launching into an anthem-like first verse with backing vocals ahh-ing like a church choir. Then the lyrics begin to move faster and faster like a spoken word poem on 2x speed, before abruptly stopping. But following the half second gap, the next song, “Don’t Think”, picks up precisely where track one ended, and launches into a frantic drum solo before evolving into a full-fledged song with a rhythmic beat and a head-bobbing, catchy bridge and chorus:
“I just want to know…/(ooh, ooh, ooh)/At the end of time and space (ooh, ooh, ooh)/Who’ll remember the human race?/…At the end of space and time (ooh, ooh, ooh)/Who’ll remember humankind?”
Add this to the seemingly improvised whistling at the end of “I Want My Medicine” (which ends with giggling from the bandmembers) and the last few minutes of the final song, “Pick Me Up” which seems to evolve from indie-pop song to manic electro-jungle chant, complete with electronic-sounding whooping and increasingly atemporal, fastpaced drumbeats, and ending on a weirdly syncopated loop.
Taken together though, the album is a solid listen, with all the pieces coming together under a recurring theme of relationships – be they romantic or familial – and lessons learned from life (like in the philosophical track, “So It Goes”). White Paint represents an important addition to the band’s oeuvre, because it establishes Hollerado as a band that’s sticking around for a while.
01. Wonder, Velocity, Charlie and Me
02. Don’t Think
03. Thanks For The Venom
05. Too Much To Handle
06. Lonesome George
07. So It Goes
08. I Want My Medicine
09. Pure Emotion
10. Fresno Chunk (Digging With You)
11. Pick Me Up