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Hollis Brown - Ozone Park (Cool Green)

Hollis Brown-Ozone Park
12 December 2019

Reading through this Queens, NY quintet’s bio, it’s not unreasonable to expect their fifth album — named for a neighborhood in the band’s home borough — to be steeped in influences from the past. Not only was their name taken from a 1964 Bob Dylan tune (“Ballad of Hollis Brown,” from Dylan’s third LP The Times They Are A-Changin’), but they once recreated The Velvet Underground’s entire 1970 fourth LP Loaded (as 2014’s Get Loaded) for Record Store Day, and even constructed a song (2015’s “Rain Dance”) around an unreleased Bo Diddley rhythm track, following a request at one of their shows by Diddley’s own reps. Indeed, the first three songs on Ozone — the funky “Blood From a Stone,” bluesy “Stubborn Man,” and soulful cover of fellow Queens native Jesse Malin’s 2015 “She Don’t Love Me Now” — whisked me right back to my teenage years of the ‘70s and early ‘80s, each one baring hints of Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, John Fogerty, Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, and The Black Crowes; in fact, Hollis Brown’s robust-voiced, swagger-filled singer Mike Montali even sounds like a cross between Petty and The Crowes’ Chris Robinson.

At the same time, the album wisely dispenses with the too-conventional, leisurely-paced country/roots-rock that dominated their last LP, 2015’s 3 Shots, in favor of more buoyant, vivacious playing and arrangements, and Adam Landry’s streamlined yet spacious production. Thus, songs like the heartfelt, Motown-tinged ballad “Forever in Me,” the driving, Jackson Browne-like “Do Me Right,” the breathy, pop-oriented “The Way She Does It,” and the smacking, garage-inspired “Bad Mistakes” (which features Montali’s and Jonathan Bonilla’s filth-encrusted guitars) feel modern and revitalizing. Old fans shouldn’t fret: Ozone still contains plenty of the R&B-infused, working class “retro” rock for which Hollis Brown is known. But by adding their own restorative, up-to-date enhancements, the group breathes new life into the familiar old genres they grew up with. (

Upcoming Hollis Brown tour dates:
12/12 The New Parish – Oakland, CA
12/13 El Rey Theatre – Los Angeles, CA
1/5 3rd & Lindsley – Nashville, TN
1/15 The Cutting Room (Light of Day Concert) – New York, NY
1/17 The Stone Pony (Light of Day Concert) – Asbury Park, NJ
1/18 Rams Head On Stage – Annapolis, MD

Band links: