Swingin' Utters - Fistful of Hollow (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Swingin' Utters

Fistful of Hollow (2014)

Fat Wreck Chords

Reviewing a Swingin' Utters record is not an easy task. The long-running band is constantly evolving, and in their 25-plus years they've moved from a heavily street punk-influenced sound to one that showcases more Irish folk influences to one that lends much to Americana and good ol' rock n' roll. On Fistful Of Hollow, the band continues to experiment, but maintains a foothold in the more rock-oriented sound that came to the fore on 2013's Poorly Formed. In doing so, the Swingin' Utters solidify the next evolution of their sound and show that growth is still possible for a band barreling toward the 30-year mark.

As with just about every Swingin' Utters record, there's a lot going on across the album's 15 tracks, and also, as with much of the band's output, the record as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. There's no standout track or lead single, per se, but there's consistent quality throughout, even as the tracks vary stylistically, and that makes for an album that holds the listener's attention from start to finish.

On the punk side of things, tracks like "We Are Your Garbage" and "Tonight's Moons" hit all the classic notes, and also bring a playfulness that first started to rear its head on Poorly Formed. The “yeah, yeah, yeah” and “no, no, no” refrains on “Tonight’s Moons” are a fine example of this stylistic twist.

As usual, the Swingin’ Utters also bring in the folk and Americana elements on tracks like “Napalm South” and album closer “End of the Weak.” The former rocks a little harder than the latter and brings in some blues elements that are new to the band’s sound, while the latter sounds more like the classic folk-tinged ballads that the band has closed many a previous album with.

With an album that spans such diverse territory, sequencing is key, and for the most part Fistful of Hollow gets it right. It does sometimes feel heavier on the folk and Americana in the middle and heavier on the punk tracks toward the end, but that’s a minor quibble and one that shouldn’t impact anyone’s enjoyment of the record.

As has been the case for quite a while, the Swingin’ Utters have delivered a diverse record that shows a band that’s very comfortable doing what it does -- seamlessly moving between styles in a way that showcases a rare level of musicianship and musical know-how. It never feels forced, and in fact, if anything, the movement between genres feels particularly natural. If that feeling is what makes a record successful, consider Fistful of Hollow a success.