September 07, 2003

Holiday Rain "No Sound Like The Present"

Finally--someone gets it right! I've always been under the impression that bands like Apples in Stereo and various other Elephant 6 bands have been good bands who are too damn weak, and lo-fi rock bands like Guided By Voices are strong, yet are ultimately lacking in true sweetness. If only someone could strike a happy balance between the two...oh, wait, somebody do! Yeah, for their second album, No Sound Like The Present, Holiday Rain have thrown the best parts of two distinct styles together, mixed it up and strained out the crap.

If you have reservations about lo-fi psych-pop, you're probably justified for being a little bit cautious about No Sound Like The Present. Too many good artists have perpetuated a whole bunch of crap under the guise of "lo-fi psych," and after years of mediocrity, the last thing you'd want to hear is another album that fits such a description. I mean, really--thirty two minute songs doth not a good album make, no matter how odd or unique you make the concept seem. Too much crap like that has been released, and you really cannot blame the indie-rock listeners for turning their fickle noses up in the air.

No Sound Like The Present may be brief, but it's never short of melody, hooks, or simple pop craft. Yes, they never break any of the Pollard Commandments, yet they never throw any kind of skronky experimental junk into the mix, either. Only three songs break the three-minute mark, and of those, only one breaks the four minute mark--the positivly epic album closer, "Timeless Clock," a stoned-out closing song that clocks in at...heheh...4:20! The only problem with No Sound Like The Present is that occasionally their simple songwriting style produces a monotony that can be rather grating. It's too bad, though, because the undeniable power behind real jewels like "Let Them Sleep," "I Heard the Message," "It's My Fault" and "Pointless" could easily and rather unfairly be lost. It's a shame, too; such songs deserve a bit better than that. Holiday Rain's sound is raw, rocking and real; how could a sound like that not produce some really good music?

I like No Sounds Like The Present. It's pleasant, enjoyable and never too heavy. It's just the right combination of classic and indie rock. True, it's not the most original sound out there in indie-rock land, but at least Holiday Rain give it an honest, sincere try. I have this feeling that Holiday Rain's sound translates MUCH better in a live setting, where many variables are at play, and ideas aren't weighed down by the limitations of being a lo-fi garage-rock band.

--Joseph Kyle

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