Johnny Hollow’s “Dirty Hands”, to me, is what I expect to be playing in Goth clubs like Detroit’s City Club. Instead, I am always nauseatingly greeted with KMFDM or VNV Nation. I can only hope that one day the DJs at these fine establishments discover bands like Johnny Hollow, who are doing brilliantly imaginative music that is still appropriately dark, moody and complex while maintaining a sense of danceability.
I think what separates Johnny Hollow from a lot of the EBM and cyber-goth bands is its employment of a wider range of instruments and more dynamic composition. In addition to the electronic music production and guitars, they employ cellos, pianos and so on. They also use a lot of great melodies and a great vocalist. Even the lyrics are not too bad, a point on which this type of music usually fails me. They use a female vocalist whose voice is both pretty and powerful, and works with the dynamics of the music very well.
There are some amazing songs present. A few of them are slower, a few have a rock sensibility, others could, as I said, fit in a dance club quite nicely. All of the songs feel traditionally Gothic, in a way I feel is also very fresh and new. I would not put them in any sort of deathrock, bat cave sort of sound, however. They seem to be flirting with this neovictorian / steampunk style that is similar to artists like Rasputina, or Abney Park. A few of the songs, notably “Bogeyman”, are downright awesome. “Bogeyman” has an epic industrial sound that builds and explodes at the chorus. The music transforms and the vocals go from somewhat sultry to downright seductive. The whole album is quite moving. There is a cover of The Doors “People Are Strange” that doesn’t do much for me, but other people may enjoy.
In addition to Rasputina and Abney Park, “Dirty Hands” may also be of interest to people who like Attrition or Emily Autumn.