Holler, Wild Rose! – Our Little Hymnal (Backlight Records)

Before discussing Holler, Wild Rose!’s music I need to vent for a minute about their name. Whatever happened to simple yet clever band names like Television, The Beatles, and The Pixies? When did it become OK to use sentence fragments with awkward punctuation? Can we make it not OK, or only allow emo bands to do it? Anyway, onto this Jersey group’s music – picture Jeff Buckley and Creation Records both coming back from the dead and you’d have a pretty good indicator of what they’re shooting for. As expected with a Jeff Buckley comparison, singer John Mosloskie’s voice covers a wide range of sound and emotion, from tender Thom Yorke-esque falsettos to intense wailing, and all places in between. The band’s is praise-worthy too, with strong dynamics and an almost jazz-like sense of rhythm and interplay, which works nicely with their spacey sound. This is especially evident on the album’s eponymous opener, which ebbs and flows through several distinct shifts with expertise, never wearing out its welcome over seven minutes (they favor long compositions, with seven songs passing the six-minute mark). There are problems along the way though: Occasionally the vocals show off rather than serve the song, and the album is marred by “Poor In Spirit” which plods lifelessly for twelve-minutes. Still, these are small complaints, and considering that Our Little Hymnal is their debut, they have time to get better. Even with problems, HWR! are off to a great start, and if songs like “Mary Lawn Hair” (Radiohead-meets-MBV) and “Captive Train” are any indication, more people will be hating their name in the future.