Electro Groove Records EGRCD517
13 songs – 45 minutes
Based north of San Bernardino, Calif., My Own Holiday is a hard-driving duo who play a synthesis of blues, rock and pop music that’s hard to categorize, but definitely bluesy and a style all their own.
With two previously self-produced CDs in their arsenal, guitarist/vocalist Joey Chrisman and drummer Nick Bartolo have been working together for the better part of a decade after meeting when Chrisman traveled to Florida to audition for Bartolo’s band. They based themselves out of Los Angeles for a while before settling about an hour to the east in the resort community of Lake Arrowhead. Christman has written all of the material on this disc, influenced by Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, the Black Keys and White Stripes, producing a raw, stripped down sound with a propulsive rock/blues groove. The album was produced by Mike Delaney, who retained the feeling of a live performance in the finished product.
“Hold On Me” kicks off the performance with a droning guitar riff as Chrisman delivers a powerful message that there’s nowhere in the universe he wouldn’t go to find someone who’s done him wrong. His vocals are powerful even without the electronic effects that are present in the tune. And as it is throughout, Bartolo’s work on the skins is slightly behind the beat, driving the material forward. “Razorblades” is a two-minute warning that “it hurts me when you speak/I’d rather just go chew on razorblades.” Harsh. The sound gets funky for “Two Coins,” a blues shuffle that sings of redemption, before the mood and tempo change dramatically for “Memphis,” about an ill-fated romance.
Another nice circular riff kicks off “Devil In Me,” a passionate pure blues about a woman the singer can’t figure out. Her constant stance between high and low drives him crazy. Next up, the title song, “Reason To Bleed,” finds the vocalist breaking his back on the graveyard shift to support a woman he loves, but folks can’t trust. Painfully good. The ballad “Whiskey In The Well” follows as Chrisman performs solo to deliver a song of regret about another failed love affair.
A late-night encounter with an ex who’s been up for days is the subject of “On The Floor Blues.” She’s in such bad shape, he won’t even let her sleep on the carpet. “Smile” kicks off with a John Lee Hooker feel before the first change. It’s introspection from the position of a man who wants nothing more than a one-night stand. “Stone Free” tells the tale of a wanderer who has no luck at all, while “Stranded” is a sweet slow blues love song that simply requests his lady not be cruel because the singer’s out of cures. The funky “Don’t Shine On Me” — about someone who seems to support him, but really holds him down – and “Right Back Where I Started” – a simple song about returning to basics – conclude the disc.
My Own Holiday delivers with gusto, using great lyrics and a direct musical approach rather than a lot of flash. Lyrically fresh, the music is never boring or repetitive despite the nature of the band. And there’s enough blues here to keep traditionalists interested. Available through Amazon or through the City Hall Records, it’s highly recommended, especially if you’ve got a taste for something different.