Black Wine - Hollow Earth [12-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Black Wine

Hollow Earth [12-inch] (2012)

Don Giovanni Records

Black Wine is a three-piece consisting of an Erg! and two Hunchbacks, which sounds like an intriguing combination both musically and also if someone wanted to create a new cartoon show that only small children can understand/appreciate.

Taking the musical trio then, Black Wine has come up with a really good album that sounds a bit new wave, a bit late '80s/early '90s alternative/indie, a smattering of grunge and a whole busload of pop–it's this latter quality that shines through the most though with an infectiousness that is right up front from the get go. It's a joyous amalgam that manages to stay remarkably fresh from start to finish, helped enormously by the vocals being swapped between Jeff Schroek and Miranda Taylor, both with distinctive voices that add a different quality to the songs.

The album kickstarts itself with "Flatland," a Schroek sung song that is good but I have to say that next up comes a track that blows away everything else on this record: "Fence" features Taylor on vocals (and drums) and has a wonderfully catchy bass line that bounces along with an abandon that is infectious beyond belief. Taylor also comes up trump with "Blurry," a pure indie pop song on which she delivers a beautiful vocal performance and is more evidence of the variety that Black Wine can offer musically.

The tracks "Hollow Earth I" and "Hollow Earth II" bring to mind bands such as Dinosaur Jr and the Meat Puppets, with Schroek's vocals occasionally having that Mascis-like feel to them, topped off with a slightly fuzzed guitar helping achieve a similar sound to that which both bands are known for.

Throughout Hollow Earth, Taylor and Schroek's voices add to whatever sound each track has and create a diverse collection of 10 songs that I firmly believe gets better with every listen, despite feeling that it's impossible to enjoy it any more than I do each time. With Schroek's guitar offering riffs left, right and center, J Nixon's bass delivering a masterful collection of lines and Taylor's taut drumming there is much to admire within this album, as it is firmly embedded in my current top 10 of the year and it will take a good few quality releases to stop it retaining its place come the year end.

This is Black Wine's third long player and as is often the case I now have two more records to add to my wants list.