Blow Up Hollywood - Fake
A recent rediscovery for me are this nigh on un-categorisable and enigmatic band from New York. Fronted by Steve Messina (voice/guitar), ably assisted by Thad DeBrock (guitars, processing), Dave Eggar (cello) and Daniel Mintseris (keyboards), the band give no information on personnel on their album covers, and very little on their website, the info here comes from http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=27908
They revel in their anonymity, are not easily pigeonholed and have produced a highly varied body of work since 2002. The band have gone from orchestral minimalism to ambient to prog, and have even tackled the dreaded concept album.
This, their second album, was released in 2004, and is a lovingly produced musical journey through love and loss. Fake it certainly is not. Haunting, melancholic and uplifting by turns, there are ten songs on the album, five with vocals, five instrumentals. A simple but effective musical motif runs through the album like lettering in a stick of rock (rock candy for our American friends), reappearing for the final time on the last track DMK, the oddest of the instrumentals featuring what sounds like backwards keyboards. Buried in the middle of the album is the gorgeous love song Oceans, which you can easily imagine being played in a stadium sized venue, audience with lighters aloft. My only gripe is that the wonderful slide (or bottleneck) guitar break is not long enough - maybe they extend it in a live setting? The title track has another highly personal lyric presumably from Steve, the song starts with a late Floydian sounding acoustic, and builds into a highly atmospheric and climatic coda.
Much as I hate making comparisons, I concede that for newcomers to a band it can be helpful, so here goes. The obvious influence is late period Floyd, but with a slightly less proggy edge. Believe it or not I could well imagine Robbie Williams singing the title track - stop laughing at the back, I mean it in a totally positive way!
Judge their consummate songcraft for yourself at http://www.myspace.com/blowuphollywood . Oceans isn't on the MySpace site, but White Walls from this album is.
An album for an introspective mood, with some lovely songs. Largely unknown outside of the USA, this band deserve to be heard. Buy Fake (and their other CDs and goodies) here http://hollyskite.com/merch.php cheaper than Amazon!
4 out of 5
***Thanks to Steve for the CD***