The Hollyhocks, Understories
(Mystery Lawn Music)
From a basic lineup of two electric guitars melodically entwining over bass and drums, all in support of female lead and harmony vocals that are both earthily grounded and ethereally gauzy, the Hollyhocks parlay various conventions of indie rock into an appealing sound that deepens with every listen. Guitarist (and former Oakland Magazine associate editor) Dan Jewett left an indelible mark on contemporary rock when, in another East Bay band, the Himalayans, he co-wrote the eventual Counting Crows hit “Round Here.” Understories abounds with hooks and choruses as sublime as those of “Round Here,” but with guitarist Kristin Sobditch and bassist Yuri Jewett on vocals, the effect is more intimate, soothing and wistful than it is anthemic. Post-punk hints of Television and Patti Smith and soft-rock echoes of She & Him provide past and present parallels, and Myles Boisen’s pedal steel on the playful “Everyone’s Here” betrays an underlying affection for country pop. But this band, anchored by Jason Silverio’s authoritative drumming, can get big, too, as it proves on the surprise cover of Def Leppard’s “Photograph,” with Magik*Magik Orchestra providing the string-driven muscle for a crescendo that wonderfully alludes to the Who’s “Baba O’Riley.” The Hollyhocks, however, are not denizens of a teenage wasteland.