Holding Onto Sound’s latest has bite—and a message

HOTS in herre (From left): Tidwell, Mains, Naqshband and Gates
Photo: Shahab Zargari

Las Vegas’ most explosive live band couldn’t be blamed if it sidestepped the studio. Raucous punk outfits are built for stages, not sound booths. But Holding Onto Sound takes its recordings as seriously as its shows, holing up every couple years to lay down its best new tracks, first for 2007’s self-titled LP, then for 2009’s Songs of Freedom and now for third album The Sea.

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Holding Onto Sound
The Sea
four stars
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Those actions aren’t driven by merch-table dreams or record-contract wishes. HOTS has stuff to say. Even more than its muscular melodies or artfully aggressive aesthetic, The Sea is about its message—a relentless reminder that modern life is overwhelming, though not bereft of hope. War, social strife and economic reality tumble turbulently amid the sharks, ships and swirling waters of the titular metaphor, cohering in a sophisticated statement that speaks of experience beyond the practice room.

More than its predecessors, The Sea also captures Holding Onto Sound’s edgy live energy (kudos to National SouthWestern Electronic Recordings’ Ronald Corso for that bit of magic). And new fourth member Bob Gates brings an extra set of brass knuckles to the brawl, not that holdovers Bennett Mains, Zabi Naqshband and Vanessa Tidwell needed much help. When Mains finishes off the record by crying out “Our war is never over!” it’s clear he’s not just referencing skirmishes in Afghanistan.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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