By Jemiah Jefferson
The debut solo album from former Apples in stereo member Chris McDuffie has a proud “no synths” rule. Instead of Moog, it offers up plenty of jaunty piano, tambourines, and an earnest guitar that wouldn’t find itself out of place on Let It Be. The Beatles comparisons are not only obvious, but apparently welcome; but rather than shooting for the McCartney wink-and-nod, this album hews closer to the thoughtfulness of All Things Must Pass-era George Harrison. And yet there’s a silly love song, because there must be.
McDuffie clearly loves his early ’70s AM radio sound, more hand claps than anthems, and more lyrically sophisticated than the Bay City Rollers. Would it be out of place to say that this album sounds a lot like Canadian party-rock pastiche masters Sloan? I don’t think Sloan would think so . . . and notable track “Medinah” (click to playclick to play) features densely layered vocal tracks, McDuffie singing along hypnotically with a chorus of himself.
Hollows and Rounds sounds brainy and measured, but comfortable; it breaks no new ground, but encourages the listener to find the new in the same familiar sound.