Bozeman, Montana—the birthplace of rock stars. Didn’t sound convincing? Perhaps the darkly Americana of KING ROPES could help change your mind. Akin to something between Shovels & Rope, Neil Young in his Crazy Horse era, and Mitski, the band is comprised of guitarist and lead vocalist Dave Hollier, Katy Perry drummer Konrad Meissner, Widowspeak bassist and guitarist Dylan Trevelen, Oberhofer guitarist Ben Roth, and keyboardist and guitarist Adam Wolcott Smith. Outside of a quintet with eclectic musical backgrounds wherein four of the five contributors are producing some sweet riffs, the band also has a serious production team comprised of Paul Gold, Don Piper, Barry Conle, and none other than Hollier and Meissner themselves to top things up.
So they’ve got the chops, they’ve got the gusto, and they’ve clearly got the support in creating their work to back them up, but all in all, do they have what it takes? With their knack for shoveling down into the nitty gritty of human issues, once again in a very Neil Young-ish fashion, the answer is, thankfully, a resounding yes. Hollier himself draws some inspiration between the urban and the rural, having put in time as a kid in both his home state of Montana and the concrete jungles of New York back in the 1980s, so there’s a melding of eastern and western states at play that develops a compelling sound somewhere between the ethereality of Escondido and the guttural punch of—we kid you not—the Beastie Boys.
Abstract, complex, and compelling, Hollier and the gang make for a captivating record across the board with KING ROPES’ DIRT. The instrumentation and production rates present on this indie release are captivating, but at the center of it all is a very capable frontman in the form of Hollier. His creeping, lackadaisical vocal delivery paired with the old-school folkster nasality in his tone make for a scintillating listen, and he wears his role as band leader well as his bandmates soar with him.
Words by: Jonathan Frahm