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A-Sides With Jon Chattman: Hollis Brown, The Spring Standards, and The High Strung

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Apologies to Wayne Campbell, but perhaps there's a lot more going on in Delaware than he first thought. The Spring Standards, a trio of musicians (James Cleare, Heather Robb, and James Smith) who hail from the Blue Hen State or close to it anyway, have magically swept us away with their smooth folkish, rurally sound and yes that "magically swept us away" line was the second of too many Wayne's World references for a story written in 2012. Party on, 1992?

Dated introductions aside, on May 1st The Spring Standards will ambitiously release two different sounding EPs -- respectively titled yellow and gold -- and have already begun touring in support of them. yellow is a tad more subdued, with songs tracing back to their childhoods (they both met in their teens by the way), while gold is a more shiny album -- bursting with more fruit flavor and chronicling their big city lives. Both EPs highlight their skill at telling stories and setting them to music rather nicely ... plus, any album that features a glockenspiel deserves major props.

On April 3rd, the threesome performed "Crushing Pennies" followed by a brief quirky chat on an "A-Sides" set inside one of the practice rooms of the Music Conservatory of Westchester in White Plains, NY. Run-on sentences rock! Let's meet the folkers now ... Watch. Listen. Love.

"Crushing Pennies"

A Crushing Interview?

Hollis Brown

Another trio -- for the purposes of this "A-Sides" anyway -- came to the Music Conservatory of Westchester to perform and have a professionally unprofessional chat with yours truly. Three of the five members of the New York band Hollis Brown (Jon Bonilla, Michael Graves, and Michael Montali) stopped by to perform their killer ballad "If It Ain't Me" off their just-released EP Nothing & The Famous No One. Kids, take note: EPs are all the rage in today's musical scene. In any event, the band have gained recognition of late for their bluesy rock songs that pack a lot of soul and their intense live performances.

Like The Spring Standards, Hollis Brown are currently on the road to support their record, because that's -- you know -- how it's done. You can't release a record and expect things to work out right away. These things take time. I mean sometimes it just happens right away -- take Pinterest for example -- but most of the time it happens gradually. Anyway, Brown is a terrific band whose EP was produced by Deer Tick music master Adam Landry in Nashville. Enjoy the performance, and try to like my interview somewhat.

"If It Ain't Me"

Between Two Mikes

The High Strungs
You've probably heard the next band a lot if you have Showtime and are digging on Emmy Rossum constantly taking off her clothes. The High Strung's track "The Luck You Got" is the theme song of the William H. Macy/Rossum hit Shameless, but there's more to the Detroit-by-way-of-Brooklyn band than one catchy TV song. The band, which consists of Josh Malerman, Chad Stocker, Derek Berk, and Stephen Palmer, have been churning out album after album, it seems, since they debuted in 2000. Their sixth album, ?Posible o' Imposible? , finds them in similar territory with rocking insightful tracks that sometimes boggle the mind.

"Single & Alone" and Josh Malerman interview:

About A-Sides with Jon Chattman
Jon Chattman's music series features artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometimes humorous) way. No bells, no whistles -- just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, I'm hoping this is refreshing.