Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Hollis Brown takes us down a road that's as bumpy as they're made. It's littered with the kind of teeth-chattering, cringe-inducing holes that have been torn into the driving surface through weight, through weather and through careless workmanship. They grow bigger with ever wheel and rim they ring, as if they're gaining strength and confidence. One of these days, they'll take a wheel right off, and there will be a faint sound coming from below the ground, as if the devil is laughing his red baboon ass off. This road is more than simply treacherous. It's impassable and without signs. Being on it for a while, you start to get a sinking suspicion that you're going the very opposite direction that you want to be going and yet you have this strange feeling - with all of the curves and decisions you've had to make at unmarked intersections - that if you were to turn around now, you might actually get more lost than if you were to just continue the thought out to its final point, whatever that might mean for you.
What we find in the ditches, along this road, are stray thoughts and wavering confidence. We find the shadows of some people and we find others who are willing to pull them out of the brambles. There are the damaged girls, who were beaten good by their fathers when they were littler. There are all kinds of people, just looking for a little support, some little crutch that they can use, just for a while, until they can get their heads up above the surface of the water. There's a hopefulness - even in the tainted dim of the light out there on this path - where love seems to be something that needs to be watched with both eyes and it should mostly remain unable to be trusted, but there is a thought that it could be the only thing that can get us out of here. There's a hope that one day something like love could be shared between that damaged girl and the man who - obviously is needy too - would be mostly happy if only he didn't damage her any further.
Hollis Brown lead singer Mike Montali sings like a man who's been around for many more scruffy years than he actually has and when he imparts a line like, "A sad man needs a woman too," it comes with a necessary echo, the perfect heaviness and a good, lonely sigh. It's the state of affairs for the majority of the characters that the band brings to the night's floor. There's a lot of scar tissue that doesn't cause any feeling to the touch anymore, just the kinds of reminders that burn without doing a thing.