Tyler Brown
The Hollows


4.5
superb

Review

by David Foster Wallace USER (72 Reviews)
April 9th, 2013 | 24 replies


Release Date: 04/02/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: It's an album that won't leave you feeling hollow

The first time I truly “listened” to The Hollows (as in kept my complete and utter focus on it) was on a misty, dreary morning walk with opaque skies and dreary clouds creating a sheet of sleek, gray apathy from nature. In essence it was the perfect time to listen to it. The type of weather just clicked with it.

The musical landscape as of late seems to be dominated by the tightly engineered sonic craft of the The 20/20 Experience, an album so rewarding with its junction of slick, mainstream pop appeal and longer, more progressive experimenting with the new pop sound. If The 20/20 Experience is the mainstream hit of the year, then The Hollows by up and coming artist Tyler Brown is the independent equipoise, filled with just as many layers but having a more spacious, relaxing atmosphere about it. Its indie/R&B-styled contemplative jams on diametrically opposing wavelengths from 20/20.

Yet it is completely unfair to compare this to Justin Timberlake in any sort of way though, considering one is an up-and-coming artist and one has already been on the public forefront for a little over a decade. The quote on Brown’s band camp page says “entirely organic debut album” and it shows. The Hollows sheds any potential manufactured sheen that it could ever hypothetically have and lets the musicality of his voice and the quality of the songwriting shine through.

The strengths of this album lie particularly in Brown’s confidence within each piece of music. Never does his voice falter or the music cut short awkwardly. Everything sounds full and rich with new territory explored on each listen. The instrumentation comes with a full package. Acoustic guitar gets sprinkled over big drum sounds and a large, memorable chorus on “Weekend (Un Beso)” that just wails soulfully and sends a big rush through the body the first time it pops up. “Loverneverlearned” lays out some stripped-down strumming on a downbeat melody with dysphoric vocal work. The sonic palette with which Brown works sounds like a devilishly adept coalescence of Nick Drake and Bon Iver whilst providing his own unique touch on things. Even then, pieces like “Skelaxin (Oh, Ira)” maintain an upbeat, hopeful quality about them, creating a nice dynamic between the more uplifting songwriting and the darker, more melancholic material.

The Hollows really does have an interesting dynamic going for it, one that is not so black and white in tone but much more steeped in grayscale. The songs tend to alternate between downtrodden and sanguine diapasons, mixing together to create this gray area, something akin to a defeated failure rising up from the ashes of wallowing and self-pity and taking a positive, promising path filled with hopes and desires. This is existentialist, life-affirming music for the soul.

What ties these areas of gray in with the powerful songwriting and the musicality of each production is the self-assurance of Tyler Brown himself. This is a musician fully confident in the idea that his work stands out from the rest of the crowd. That he can differentiate himself from the pack of endless DIY imitators with a laptop, a recorder, and a few chords learned on a guitar. That his voice can project and enrich the music without ever breaking a sweat and slipping through the cracks. The Hollows is probably one of the most courageous, cocksure records to slide its way into the fabric of music in 2013, and it’s absolutely lovable. The audaciousness it upholds affects the listener (well me) in a way like never before.

It truly is a moving album with a pool of emotions to be dabbled in. As I listened to it I experienced emotional turmoil, with feelings of anxiety, regret, melancholy, happiness, hope, and optimism all flowing through me at once. Only truly great masterpieces can have this kind of effect on a listener. It becomes a mellowed out walk through the forest, where one can be alone and think about all of the past decisions they have made and their lives up to this point. Or it can become something that will make someone smile profoundly, and reaffirm their spirits as they look towards the future. It’s a record that can make someone reflective of the past or make them await the prospects of the future with impeccable foresight. The Hollows is everything you could ever want something of its caliber to be emotionally, and that’s fantastic.

If any criticism could be made of the record, it’s that it sometimes (but rarely) feels like a rookie album. Even though it is a first album, for the most part it sounds like an excellent third or fourth record in an artist’s catalog, but there are little moments where things get same-y and derivative of each other. Although consistency is important an album, here it tends to drag on near the end because of the repetition. Apart from this one minor quibble, it is a nearly flawless album.

The Hollows has a stand as an early contender for one of the best albums of the year plain and simple. It’s an almost perfect mood album, weather album, and just a plain out good record. Tyler Brown is well on his way to greater things in the music world.



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user ratings (9)
Chart.
4.2
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Aids
Contributing Reviewer
April 9th 2013


23911 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

someone needs to submit the album artwork as a jpeg

I listened to this once, seemed pretty cool, not sure if I'm as into it as you all are though.

Digging: RATKING - So It Goes

Urinetrouble
April 9th 2013


5764 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

sup aids

fuck miles rowat

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
April 9th 2013


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7 | Sound Off

fucking change that summary

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
April 9th 2013


50674 Comments


I have a friend named Tyler Brown hmmm

Digging: Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2

balcaen
April 9th 2013


3183 Comments


Really into this. Definitely got the Bon Iver/Seabear vibe from it too. TOP 10 AOTY FOR SURE

balcaen
April 9th 2013


3183 Comments


but for real Rail Division

balcaen
April 9th 2013


3183 Comments


SOMEONE FUCKING FEATURE THIS

ITsHxCTOASTER
April 9th 2013


2489 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fuck yeah awesome review awesome album and yeah Rail Division omg

Jash
April 9th 2013


4244 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

but for real Rail Division [2]

This album is sooooooo good, pretty sure I'm gonna end up writing something for it once it sinks in a bit more. This will easily end up high on my year end list

oltnabrick
April 9th 2013


31157 Comments


recommended by reviewer
Nick Drake Pink Moon
Lil B Pink Flame


u have my attention ye

Digging: Dean Blunt - Black Metal

ITsHxCTOASTER
April 9th 2013


2489 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah seriously this was sweet on the first listen and even grew on me more with repeated listens, this album is killer

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
April 9th 2013


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7 | Sound Off

album is good yeah

oltnabrick
April 9th 2013


31157 Comments


does this really sound like Lil B and Nick Drake???

ITsHxCTOASTER
April 9th 2013


2489 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You could have very easily checked it out by now and figured that out I mean it's right here
http://tylerbrown.bandcamp.com/

But nah it doesn't sound like Lil B

Yazz_Flute
April 12th 2013


18819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Pretty gay summary.

I really love Weekend (Un Beso)

Digging: Ne Obliviscaris - Citadel

ITsHxCTOASTER
April 13th 2013


2489 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Weekend (Un Beso) has that really cool lil guitar part yeah

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
April 23rd 2013


22023 Comments


this is ok. first song is really good

Digging: Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2

ITsHxCTOASTER
April 24th 2013


2489 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

But the first one isn't even the bessssst

TheCollectiveFacade
May 5th 2013


661 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Im so glad someone took the time to review this

Digging: Lights - Little Machines

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
May 5th 2013


22023 Comments


First song rules still by far the best



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