If you like your rock and roll tunes tidy, accessible, and in between three-and-a-half to four-and-a-half minutes, you’ll love the debut by Montrealers The Holds entitled Juke and released August 25th, 2018. For a debut release, the production is impeccable. Whoever was behind the knobs during the recording, mixing, and mastering of Juke has some serious studio savvy! (And yes, I’ve got more compliments to go around.) The songwriting and arrangements on the album are top notch as well. The inclusion of piano on a largely blues rock-oriented album gives certain songs a more full-bodied ambiance and helps to uplift the more boisterous, down-and-dirty blues components of this record. Slow clap for The Holds!
Alright, let’s not beat around the bush. This is largely moderate, radio-friendly blues rock, which oftentimes I will be more critical of, as opposed to more creative and experimental works. But there are exceptions to every rule and I’m tempted to make one here with Juke, if only for the simple fact that The Holds have done the straightforward blues-rock thing so well. In the vein of The Black Keys or The Sheepdogs, The Holds take a tried and tested rock formula and make it work for them. Vocalist and guitarist Ryan Setton delivers some feel good, echo-laden vocals that give tracks like “Waste of Time” and “Give ‘n’ Take” a familiarity that you can sink into. The same can be said for the guitars; Eric Hein stays in line for most of the tracks on Juke, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Like I said, when it’s done well and everything falls into the right place, you’ve got the makings of a hit song. One more time for the rhythm section (and so I don’t forget anybody), Justin Wiley on drums and André Galamba on bass do a commendable job of keeping that tight pocket, something I think is absolutely imperative for a successful blues-rock record. Check the song “Ready or Not” for a great example. It’s an extremely punchy song, yet carries a beautifully consistent pulse on the backbeat.
The Holds debut record Juke isn’t going to change the face of rock. But who the fuck cares? I’m sure many would say the face of rock looks perfectly fine the way it does. It’s mostly about the attitude, and The Holds have it.
Written by Lee Ferguson
*edited by Kate Erickson