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Music Picks

Hollerado's Record In a Bag

Free stuff should always be this good!

By Alex Hudson 11 Jun 2009 | TheTyee.ca

When he's not harassing the Georgia Straight in the Payback Time column, Alex Hudson writes for various music publications and runs a blog called Chipped Hip.

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Hollerado bravely revealing their mutant egg sacs.

With album sales plummeting and the entire industry in the crapper, music promotion has turned into a game of one-upmanship. Radiohead famously adopted a pay-what-you-want model for its last album, In Rainbows, while the Raconteurs announced the release of Consolers of the Lonely less than a week before it appeared in stores. And then there's the Manotick, Ontario band Hollerado, who earlier this year posted its entire album, Record in a Bag, as a free download from its website. Forget paying what you want -- Hollerado is refusing your money outright.



Even crazier than a financially-strapped indie band giving its music away for nothing is this: rather than the budget amateurism you might expect from an Internet-only freebie, Record in a Bag is beautifully produced, with meaty guitars, thundering drums, and note-perfect performances.



But it's the songs themselves that make the album one of the year's best. "Fake Drugs" manages to sound simultaneously upbeat and dreamy, with tremolo guitars, haunting female harmonies, and a titanic call-and-reponse chorus. "Got to Lose" begins as organ-drenched RnB before exploding into a power pop chorus that evokes pre-suck Weezer.


These pop rock gems are interspersed with oddball detours, including a drunken, mug-swinging acapella singalong ("Reno Chunk") and a Hawaiian guitar interlude, complete with whistling and crashing waves (the last 30 seconds of "Walking on the Sea"). The opening track, "Hollerado Land," wasn't even performed by the band itself -- it’s credited to some dude named Sam, and it’s an ironically sloppy ditty that's as inane as it is funny.



Given the band's shock-and-awe approach to album promotion, it's no surprise that its touring schedule is equally audacious. In February, the band completed its Residency Tour, meaning that it played 28 shows in as many days, rotating between the same seven cities (Boston, New York, Lacolle, Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal), a loop that it completed four times. Then, in May, the foursome toured China -- because, naturally, the best way to pursue commercial success is to to do it in a communist country.



This month, Hollerado will finally embark upon a regular ol' cross-Canadian tour, sponsored by Pop Montreal. It will bring the group to Vancouver's Media Club on June 20. Based on the sheer insanity of the stunts the band has already pulled this year, what to expect of the performance is anybody's guess.

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