The Black Hollies: Casting Shadows

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Jersey City quartet the Black Hollies inhabit the space between the apex of mod and the dawn of psych-rock. Sophomore release Casting Shadows essentially exists within the same parameters as debut Crimson Reflections: The whole record (ten tracks at around 35 minutes) is one huge hook drenched in familiarity. On tracks like "Paisley Pattern Ground," the band shamelessly explores its influences and comes out sounding like a shroom-eating, American answer to the Len Price 3, while "Hamilton Park Ballerina" follows similar hallucinogenic channels. The pushy "Under a Winter's Spell" would have benefited from a lighter touch, and they bring nothing new to the "Who Do You Love?"-aping "Running Through My Mind." All sins are forgotten, though, by the end of the fuzzy, sitar-drenched "Patient Sparrow." The Black Hollies may not challenge seasoned listeners, but to fans' delight, they're keeping music's psychedelic past alive. Casting Shadows' most glaring fault is its ambition: The Black Hollies often try too much in the space of one song, although things never get completely muddled. Nonetheless, when a wealth of ambition is the biggest problem with your second album, is there really a problem at all?

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