R! E! N! O!
Holland Project <21
“Where do we want to go? R! E! N! O! Reno!” sings Craig Billmeier, lead singer of the band Love Songs, at the beginning of “Love Songs Loves Us Some Reno,” the first song on a new compilation CD released by the Holland Project. The CD features local bands as well as touring acts, like Love Songs, a pop punkish band from Alameda, Calif.
The title of the album, <21, refers to both the number of songs on the album, 20, and the organization’s dedication to an oft neglected segment of the local population: those too young to drink or gamble. Holland Project is a nonprofit arts organization primarily geared toward teenagers.
<21 is a sequel to the 2006 CD Holland: A Compilation of Independent Music. Production of the first compilation was one of the Holland Project’s initial undertakings.
“We’ve been talking about doing another one since the first one came out,” says Holland’s music director, Clint Neuerburg. “Especially when it came to our attention that most of those bands [on the original compilation] don’t still exist.”
The first CD consisted entirely of local bands. At the time, the Holland Project was such a new organization that the CD represented a sort of statement of purpose—it served to introduce the eclectic and inclusive spirit of the organization. And though, as Neuerburg says, many of the bands on the original no longer exist or are on extended hiatus, it’s still available and does provide a nice snapshot of the Reno music scene circa 2006. [Full disclosure: The author was a member of one of the now defunct bands on the original compilation.]
The neophyte organization saw more than its fair share of troubles during its first three years of existence, most noticeably the loss of its original Keystone Avenue venue. But the new CD commemorates Holland’s successes. Each band on the CD has performed at a Holland Project show.
“The first CD was like, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do,’” says Neuerburg, “The new one is like, ‘This is what we’ve done.’”
Most of the songs on the CD are not available anywhere else—they’re either previously unreleased songs or alternate versions of songs available elsewhere.
With the rise of music downloading, CDs, like vinyl records, are no longer simply devices for listening to music—there are easier ways to do that. Instead they’ve become collectible art objects. And if you’re going to spring for an art object, it’s nice to get one that’s handmade. The CDs boast hand-stamped labels and are individually numbered. In lieu of cases, the CDs are housed in swank little hand-sewn sleeves, individually made by Vi Pham, the mother of Van Pham, Holland Project’s arts and events director.
“She surprised me!” says the younger Pham. “I came home, and she had them done.”
“Stupendous mothers power Holland through everything,” says Holland Project’s director Brittany Curtis, with a laugh.
The music on the CD ranges across genres, from the navel-gazing indie folk of My Flag is on Fire to the metaphor-rich hip-hop of Apprentice, from the abstract soundscapes of Always Fierce to the straight-edge hardcore of Deepen the Wound. The common thread uniting the music is that it’s all music by, for or about the people of Reno. Or, as Love Songs call it, “the biggest little city in our hearts.”