In high school perhaps you knew a friend or acquaintance in a band and made the pilgrimage to the local all ages venue, got your hands X’ed and swayed alongside your classmates. Maybe you even had your own band. It probably wasn’t great. Music takes time, practice, dedication. From a logistical standpoint alone it’s hard to be proficient to the point of professionalism in anything amidst the turmoil of youth.
Los Angeles band Hollows-turned-Slow Hollows has an impressive resume for folks of their age. Frontman Austin Feinstein has worked with Frank Ocean, Tyler, The Creator and even recorded a song written by Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) under Feinstein’s solo moniker Teeks. “I suppose being young has allowed me to focus completely on music and doing what I love rather than intense outside commitments taking up my time,” Feinstein told The B-Side over email.
Slow Hollows has released three records to date including I’m Just As Bad As You Are (2014) and Atelophobia (2015). Of the latter, a titular nod to the anxiety disorder in which one fears imperfection or not being good enough, Feinstein acknowledges the condition’s reach into his musical realm adding “it comes in phases, so I’ve had to accept that it will always be like this.”
Their most recent release, Romantic (2016), is a clear divergence and progression from their discography to date, featuring album art by Meredith Wilson who recently did the artwork for Frankie Cosmos’ Next Thing (2016). Whereas Slow Hollows (and frankly many active bands) look to the past for their sound, this record marks a shift; 180-degrees forward. Slow Hollows is the future of pop rock figuratively and literally. At this point in time originality is dead and can be resuscitated only by new combinations of what already exists. The necessity of the name change from just Hollows (motivated by other bands of the same name) underscores this point.
Slow Hollows seems to understand this as teenagers, cementing them as part of both the current and forthcoming generation of musicians. Moments in their music pay homage to established traditions (see: guitar solo, “The Art School Kids”; key change, “Softer”) while pushing at their confines. Songs like “Hospital Flowers” and opening track “Spirit Week” prove though the band has taken a different approach to composing they do not entirely intend on leaving their earlier gritty guitar tones behind. There are plenty of fresh directions on the new album such as standout track “4141” which “was originally going to be turned into an independent song with standard lyric structure” until they “realized it was much sweeter when it existed simply as a quick 2:00 interlude.” With this Slow Hollows dips their toe into the post-rock pool, adding to the amassing collection of gleaned sounds with their own personal touches.
A few weeks before the Romantic release Slow Hollows opened for Beach Fossils at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco. My friends and I lost our marbles. How often do you see a post-punk band with a saxophone player? Earlier that day I had been listening to the first single off the album “Again” which marked a clear departure from the garage-y sounds of Atelophobia. There is an earlier version of the song on Teeks’ Bandcamp album Home (2015) in which electronic drums provide an interesting rhythmic dissonance. Something sounds off; mechanical, like a computerized voice mimicking human conversation. This juxtaposes Feinstein’s guitar and vocals which steer momentum to the instrumental chorus with the words “You grew forwards and / I grew backwards / Again”. The Romantic version features new lyrics “A couple hours alone / That’s a decade” while a saxophone picks up the melody.
The change is significant, echoing the sentiment of growth and hindsight. Of his lyrics Feinstein admits “everything that I have written on that subject [love] in the last 3 years has been completely disproven (by me). I have not lived enough to form an accurate or fair opinion on this topic, though it certainly is something that will leave anyone and almost everyone confused at some point.” Regardless, Romantic is a giant leap in the right direction, illuminating a path to a bright future.
Catch Slow Hollows at Slim’s in San Francisco February 11th.
Written by Ally Mason