Album Review

Frog Holler - Railings

Frog Holler - Railings

To catch the full Frog Holler vibe, you'll need to see the Philly combo in a crowded honk. The group has a growing rep as a killer live band, whereas the studio albums, as good as they are, have gotten progressively more polished. Railings, their fourth disc, takes a slow-paced tack in order to give listeners the entire sonic picture. That's not a criticism, incidentally, and anyway, a handful of tracks here, while performed with nuance and deliberation, do kick out the proverbial jams, notably the baroque-grass rocker "What Went Down", which finds songwriter/vocalist Darren Schlappich ruminating on ill intentions and dark deeds ("You lie and cheat/How do you sleep/Knowing what went down") against a thick backdrop of fuzztone pedal steel and twangy guitar arpeggios. For the most part, however, the reins remain pulled steady. Instructive tracks include an expansive, Band-like slow waltz ("Unlock The Door", featuring elegant keyboards); a harmony-strewn slice of latter-day Byrds (the quirky/spicy love story "Virginia", made spicier by a guest fiddle player); and a loping cosmic cowboy ditty with steel, banjo, acoustic guitar, brushed drums ("About Time") that concerns itself with neopacifism and nurturing one's spiritual center. All in all, the vibe is contemplative, autumnal even, which makes it a perfect disc to spin as the sun grows short and the leaves begin to turn.