Holly & The Woods

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Genre :: Rock
Status :: live and loud!
Location :: Gauteng, South Africa
Last Login :: Friday 7th of August 2009
Url :: http://www.hollyandthewoods.com
Facebook :: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Holly-The-Woods/13518748741
Myspace :: http://www.myspace.com/hollyandthewoods
Twitter :: http://www.twitter.com/hollythewoods

Written by DIANE COETZER in August 2008

Ferocious songs with killer hooks and lyrics that swiftly snag you in all the right places is the defining feature of the debut album from South African five-piece Holly and The Woods.

Titled ‘So I Rage’ the album has been anticipated for some time by the group’s growing fanbase who’ve been tracking the group’s trajectory up the homegrown rock scene over the past few years. It’s also marks the entrance into the South African record scene of a polished, powerful hard rock group whose songs and execution can sit happily alongside the best global releases in its genre.

“We’ve worked long and hard for this moment, and wanted our first album to really be something that we are proud of,” vocalist and co-songwriter, Melissa Conradie reveals. Working towards that has entailed some serious time in rehearsal, a single-minded approach to the craft of songwriting, as much live work as they can get - and Matthew Fink.

Fink – a member of alt.country outfit Jim Neversink – is rapidly evolving into one of the country’s most forward-thinking rock producers with a deep and varied knowledge of the genre to draw on when it comes to fine-tuning a band’s sound.

“The instant I heard what Matt had done on The Sick Leaves album I knew that he would be the right producer for our band,” Conradie says. Initially the band recorded ‘Falling’ at B Sharp Studios in Gauteng some 18 months ago, but swiftly realised that they were not yet equipped to sit in the producer’s seat.

“That time may come,” Conradie says (giving a hint at the big – and longterm plans – she and the band have for Holly and The Woods), “but we are really chuffed with what Matt has done with our sound. He’s done an amazing job.”

That job has entailed allowing the propulsive forces that shape Holly and The Woods’ sonic terrain to stand alone, without (and this is important) taking over the songs. A great example of this is ‘Lay Me Down’ which thrusts John Meaker’s lead guitar centrestage in a way that spotlights his clear talent while at the same time giving space to the rhythm guitar played by Holly and The Wood’s co-founding member, Craig Henning.

Indeed it was Conradie’s advert as a vocalist looking for a band on a local music website the saw the formation of Holly and The Woods (whose play-on-words band name is indicative of the jaundiced view Conradie and Henning have of contrived and manufactured entertainers). That was back in 2006 but it was to be just over a year ago (May 2007 to be specific) that the final line-up of the band was settled on. “At one stage we had three guitarists – it was admittedly a bit over-the-top,” Henning says.

Now joined by Gary Ashford on bass and Chad Harbott (a teenage firebrand) on drums, Holly and The Woods has spent the last year notching up an impressive slate of live performances, bringing their sprawling and no-holds-barred rock to stages alongside the likes of Eagle-Eye Cherry, Sarah Bettens (from K’s Choice), The Ataris, Prime Circle, Wonderboom, Hellphones, Karma, Love Jones, Cassette, Veeva Feeva (Australian band), My Epic, Walt, Running With Scissors, Lonehill Estate, Voodoo Child and The Sick-Leaves. They also snagged a highly coveted support slot with Seether’s Shaun Morgan late in 2007, an undisputed highlight of their live career that far.

Followers of the band from those first days will be happy to know that the album includes ‘Save Me’, the song that broke Holly and The Woods both live and on radio.

The song is possibly the best place to start for newcomers to Holly and The Wood’s coruscating but hugely accessible sound. It begins with the kind of crunching guitarwork that demands you listen before Conradie’s powerful vocals take centre stage, managing to channel the spirit of Skunk Anansie’s Skin while delivering a signature sound.

But there are plenty of other places to get your rock socks off on ‘So I Rage’: the solar plexus-smashing ‘Get Out’, with its astutely placed backing vocals, is hard to resist and impossible to ignore – and just when you think you’ve pinned Conradie and her crew down as hard rockers who don’t let up the pace for an instant comes the lovely ‘So I Rage Gently’, a piano-propelled version of the album’s anthemic title track and a cut that is more than a hint at the versatility Holly and The Woods is capable of.

‘Falling’ - the single that went Top 10 on Kovsie Fm and has been play-listed on stations such as Radio 2000, Tuks FM, MFM, UJ FM and UCT FM – reveals yet another side to the five-piece: a slice of radio friendly rock, ‘Falling’ nonetheless allows Holly and The Woods’ now trademark sound to leak through the melodic thrust of this standout track (it’s also the song that inspired the quite beautiful tattoo on Conradie’s arm).

Alongside these standout tracks, there is much more to love on ‘So I Rage’ including the anthemic ‘Free’, and the evocative ‘Wandering Souls’.

That they have a fanbase having waited for their first album is something of a surprise to Holly and The Woods. Not that they don’t believe in their material or the way it has turned out under Fink’s intuitive hand. “It’s because we began playing in this band because we wanted to create music that we love,” Conradie says, “and then we played the songs live and realised that people were really connecting with what we were doing in a very deep way.”

For Conradie – who earned a reputation as a devoted label manager in the South African music industry over the past nine and half years and now works full time as part of HOLLY & THE WOODS – this has been a revelation. For Holly and The Woods fans both new and loyal, it’s what makes this band far, far much more than the disposable come-and-go celebrities that inspired their name.

2009 saw them become the newest CRIME LINE ambassadors and now in the last half 2009, joining forces with Lee from Boudoir Live Productions and Shelley Coetzee (Former Manager of Arno Carstens and Karen Zoid), the world is their Oyster!

01. So I Rage - Get Out
02. So I Rage - Lay Me (Down)
03. So I Rage - Save Me
04. So I Rage - Not Like Me
05. So I Rage - So I Rage
06. So I Rage - I Like It
07. So I Rage - Enter Heaven
08. So I Rage - Heaven Is Your Hell
09. So I Rage - Dumb (superstar)
10. So I Rage - Wandering Souls
11. So I Rage - Falling
12. So I Rage - My Head
13. So I Rage - Free
14. So I Rage - So I Rage... Gently

Holly & The Woods Memers
Melissa Conradie


Craig Henning

Rhythm Guitar
Equipted with: DEAN Guitar and Line 6 Amp

John Meaker

Lead Guitar

Chad Harbott

Equipted with: Fully endorsed by YAMAHA and MUSIC MATE Boksburg

Gary Ashford

Bass Guitar
Equipted with: DEAN bass Guitar

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