Release Date: Jun 28, 2011
Record label: Anti
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Jolie Holland & the Grand Chandeliers' Pint of Blood was reportedly loosely inspired by Neil Young's Zuma, "with nods to" the Velvets, Rolling Stones, and David Bowie. That may be true -- to a degree -- in sonics and production, but it's also pure Holland; it's in her keen lyric observations of the human heart -- the equanimity with which it practices perseverance, endurance, love, betrayal, deception, acceptance, and experiences joy -- and the organic, idiosyncratic manner in which she approaches melody and songcraft. Co-produced by Holland and Shazad Ismaily; the Grand Chandeliers are Ismaily and guitarist Grey Gersten, with honorary member Marc Ribot.
Listen to Jolie Holland’s Pint of Blood in its entirety here. “I can’t believe you’re treating me like all those girls,” Jolie Holland sings early on her fifth album. “All those sweet girls go home to cry.” You won’t believe it either: The Texas-born, San Francisco-based singer-songwriter is unique among all those girls. With just the slightest hint of a Hill Country accent, Holland’s dusky voice savors every syllable, turning familiar words into wholly new forms and making common words like “staying” or “sky” sound like exotic locales.
Since her unintentional debut Catalpa, Jolie Holland has grown progressively as a songwriter. Granted, the recordings featured on that album were never meant for release and mostly consist of her scratchy vocals over a single acoustic guitar, and only occasionally feature an extra layer of harmony or a banjo. But even those songs showed such poise that it demanded the release of unfinished recordings.
Former Be Good Tanyas member Jolie Holland collaborates again with multiinstrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily on her fourth album, which was loosely inspired by Neil Young's Zuma. Recorded in various New York studios, it has a live, intimate feel despite its overdubs. Devoid of the narrative scope heard on 2008's The Living And The Dead, it still showcases Holland's beautiful, broken-sounding voice and a subtler, simpler songwriting direction.
Like the lightning bug she sings about on Pint of Blood – in a hauntingly poetic image on the song “Gold and Yellow” – Jolie Holland’s unusual voice can be both mesmerizing and easy to overlook. Like a flickering light, it unexpectedly swoops and increases in intensity, then recedes and fades, her words and diction slipping in and out of volume and urgency. She’s spellbinding when she’s on – aided by her penetrating and often-literary lyrics.
As Neil Young continues to mine his archives, the live recordings from 1984-85 that make up A Treasure prove essential to the series. With support from Geffen Records waning, Young retaliated with a crack country outfit in the International Harvesters and dug his boots into the outlaw sound with conviction. "Are You Ready for the Country" cuts like the challenge it was intended to be, while "Bound for Glory" couples Young's warble with supple fiddle and slicing steel that rolls throughout.