Mars Hollow is brand new progressive rock quartet that comes from Southern California's San Fernando Valley (my old stomping grounds). The band consists of four ultra talented musicians - John Baker (lead vocals/ guitar), Jerry Beller (drums/ vocals), Kerry Chicoine (bass/ lead vocals on “In Your Hands“) and Steve Mauk (keyboards/ vocals). Together they combine various influences like ELP, Styx, Spock’s Beard, Kansas (to name a few) which should appeal to a wide audience of prog lovers
One thing about these four that are called Mars Hollow, is they don’t step on each other’s toes with over the top soloing. Everything is portioned out perfectly and after several listens, it gets better. I think it’s due to the way the melodies stick in the listener’s head long after the album is done. In fact I found the songs rummaging up in my head in my thoughts both awake and asleep. I don’t recall another debut that got me hooked so badly.
From the beginning notes of “Wait For Me” with it’s nod directly to the ELP influence to the ending epic of “Dawn Of Creation”, the listener is treated royally to an amazing body of work that doesn’t get old or immediately have a dated sound like some bands that invoke the past. .I think these four guys carefully crafted these songs in such a way that they have a memorable “classic” feel to them.
My favorites of the album are each of the seven tracks. Each invoke different vibes that make them special. But if I had to say what songs represent the whole album, I’d say the wonderful ballad “Midnight” (5:07), to “In Your Hands” (6:33) with vocals by bassist Kerry, to the catchiest song of the album “Wild Animal” (7:10), and the closing epic “Dawn Of Creation” (12:22). I might add that some epics dilute the overall composition but not here. Each passage is as important as the next which, in my humble opinion, sets it above most modern day epics.
In closing, this amazing self titled debut starts the band’s career with a bang which I feel will be long and fruitful. Without a doubt, this has to be one of the most listened to debut releases of 2010 in my collection. It was my honor to be able to review this album and I await what’s next by these guys. I would highly recommend this band to the fans of melodic hook-driven progressive rock and the aforementioned bands. In a few words…. GET THIS NOW!
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on May 25th, 2010