Review: The Hello Strangers – Introducing Max Schmidt

You know, I have to confess: I actually feel lazy reviewing this. My San Fran blog buddy keeps spoon feeding me all these incredible bands, and of course I just lap ’em up. I am her dog, and she is my Pavlov. I swear, I’ve been conditioned. Also, I don’t mind or care.

Alas … I highly suspect I will not make it to SXSW ever. Or Coachella. Or [insert multi-day music-fest here]. Well, okay … maybe not *never*, but it’s definitely a distinct possibility. Thus it is that I will probably never see as many awesome bands as she who hails from The Bay. However, that does not mean that I will not pine for such the opportunity, for to do so would be tantamount to giving up a dream. I’m not willing to do that. So I continue to hope.

Meanwhile, those who DO get to go generously and gratuitously pass on their discoveries. Such is the case with The Hello Strangers. I have two words: Love ’em! Here’s why.

The first thing I thought of when I heard the vocals was Ani Difranco. That eventually wore off and gave way to me lapsing into a Karin Bergquist coma. The Chace sisters–Larissa and Brechyn–have been writing songs together since about 2006. They added Dave Holzwarth (bass), Kevin Shannon (guitar), and Katie O’Neil (drums) to round out their line-up in what we have in the Introducing Max Schmidt EP. Or I’m assuming it’s supposed to be an EP; there are just 6 tracks, so hopefully a full-length release is in the works.

I love the lyrics. Very Nick Cave-esque. I also love the alt-folk-country sound they have. Very reminiscent of Faun Fables, for those of you who are familiar with them. However, I *really* enjoy their vocals much, much more. Like I said–Ani Difranco and Karin Bergquist. Hard to go wrong if you sound like either of them.

One of the best tracks on the CD, in my opinion, is “Conococheague.” There’s a very western, cowboy feel to it. “I have a lover but I want another cuz he’s being chased by John boy’s brothers. I had a lover like no other, but he’s at the bottom of the Conococheague.” Interestingly enough, Conococheague Creek is located in eastern Pennsylvania. Western feel. I love it.

“Poor Dear” is beautiful and upbeat musically. Ironically, I think it’s about someone who’s been in an abusive relationship and is getting the hell out. “You laid your hand on me; why is it so hard to see by the time you light up that cigarette, I’ll be gone to Tennessee …” I dunno. Maybe I’m reading into it. I hope I am and that I’m not right. Worse, I hope it’s not based on personal experience. Tragically, we do tend to write what we know about …

Great band. I hope they put out more material soon.



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