Dance of the Flatlander
Band Bio: The four members of Holstein use the standard guitars/bass/drum/vocals lineup, but the resulting music is anything but conventional. Equally accessibly and esoteric, familiar yet foreign, Holstein shows always manage to 'entertain on several levels at once' (Andrew Miller, Pitchweekly), combining complex instrumentation and off-color humor, often within the same song. The music never fails to intrigue, excite, and astound. While 'the Progressive Rock elements of Holstein will be readily apparent, they have purified from their main sources of influence the onerous self-importance which sometimes poisons the listening experience. This band dares to write epic, structurally complex songs which aren't afraid to be silly and subversively self-parodic' (listen.com). Traces of Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Santana, Ween, Pre-Fab Sprout, Phish, The Smiths, John McLaughlin, and Bill Frisell have all been recognized in the music of Holstein. These and others are influences, but not prototypes. Holstein sounds like no one but Holstein. Referring to the band's most anthemic song, one writer praises Holstein's ability to 'rock the audience onto their feet and into a frenzy of White Gravy' (Adam Koch, Kaw Valley Independent). The powerful live show satisfies both discerning listeners and the excitable masses. Reviews of 'Dance of the Flatlander': Originally published by Pitch Weekly Feb 21, 2002 Â©2002 New Times, Inc. All rights reserved. By Geoff Harkness Holstein is best defined in terms of what it's not. The Lawrence-based quartet definitely isn't alt-rock, nor is it metal or hip-hop, grunge or gritty punk. But Holstein is just about everything else, a sonic soup overflowing with random ingredients and exotic spices. The group's debut, 1999's quirkfest Menagerie, combined prog-rock, jazz fusion and what can only be classified as country funk. The just-released Dance of the Flatlander has a slightly more serious feel, but 'mature' or not, the band's R. Crumb-ish humor hasn't gone away. Lyrical subjects cartwheel from basketball to Jesus Christ to crystal meth -- practically in the same sentence. Musically, the band's improvement as a unit is apparent from the get-go. 'Exodus' finds the group locking into a cool cappuccino groove that recalls Steely Dan in it's heyday, the dueling guitars of Ezra Sykes and Jeff Jackson cementing the image and then quickly destroying it. Drummer Alex Logan and bassist David Brodie provide a dexterous rhythmic platform for the Sykes-Jackson workouts, adding a few flourishes of their own on occasion. The title track offers a textbook example of Holstein's ability to follow it's muse wherever it might go, jumping all over a groove before quickly galloping off to entirely new terrain. Holstein's focus has always been on exploratory instrumentation, and listeners seeking three-minute pop gems would be advised to look elsewhere. Those willing to take the trip will find themselves on a freewheeling musical adventure, with plenty of roadside attractions and fun stops along the way. The Kansan February 14, 2002 HolsteinÂ´s second CD a triumph By Brad Weiner Holstein is back and they are better than ever. This week, the Lawrence band released it's second CD Dance of the Flatlander to a small consortium of friends, fans and University Daily Kansan reporters. The CDÂ´s cover art is a colorful cartoon that depicts a naked couple dancing with their dogs in a small cosmopolitan apartment. Both man and woman are lost in their own groove as the music takes them to some sort of auditory understanding. Presumably, they are listening to Holstein as they get down, because while listening to the bandÂ´s music, it is pretty tough not to. The title track is a complex, multi-part opus that would impress any Zappa fiend. It starts with a subtle, catchy guitar ostinato played by Jeff Jackson. Only two measures later, the whole band jumps in with a crisp beat, a driving, techno-like bass line and heavily distorted guitar leads. The song cruises through several well rehearsed changes the first of which takes the listener into a section that is reminiscent of later Pink Floyd mixed with early Phish. Sometimes there is more space than sound, sometimes itÂ´s reversed. Bassist David Brodie takes care of the low end with elementary licks played with exemplary drive. The drumming, provided by Alex Logan is impeccable, particularly on the goofy rocker 'Ottawa,' a city that, according to the band, smells like the 'sizzling stench of crystal meth.' Holstein has put together a great collection of originals. If the bandÂ´s music sounds like a fugitive from the seventies, the lyrics are recent escapees from the schools of Ween, Weezer and Beck. Holstein obviously doesnÂ´t take themselves too seriously. One tune, 'Basketball,' has the interesting line, 'Basketball and Jesus Christ/One day a sinner drinkinÂ´ Natty Lite.' Take that how you will, it caused this particular reviewer to laugh even while stuck in traffic on 435 South. It is noteworthy that the sound value on Dance of the Flatlander is perfect. Although self-produced, the record is mixed perfectly and includes the finer - and funnier - intricacies of HolsteinÂ´s rich sound. The best tune on the album is 'RachelÂ´s Song.' The groovy ballad contains one of the most truthful lines ever written into a rock song 'I wouldnÂ´t be so cynical/If you werenÂ´t so stereotypical.' The last cut on the album is called 'Ode to Gwar.' It is a mistitled tune that is drenched in a Phishy sound. The first part is like the soundtrack to a cartoon set in a wonderfully psychedelic munchkin wonderland. The tight choruses fall more into line as a Gwar-inspired heavily metal interpretation. After a few rounds, it blasts into a full-blown power chord frenzy fit for a head-banging spree. So, Grab a copy of Dance of the Flatlander, and close the blinds because you may find yourself dancing naked by your stereo until the break of dawn. Of course, since it is ValentineÂ´s Day, you may have plans like this already.