by Bill Bullock

The HollowPoints

w/the Apocalypsticks, Woody

Thurs June 5, Graceland, 9:30 pm, $6.

If you haven't seen the HollowPoints in the past two months, you haven't really seen them yet. Changes in attitude and lineup have transformed what was once a big, poppy four-piece tyrannosaurus of a Seattle punk band into a hungrier, sleeker three-piece velociraptor that's far more likely to splatter blood. They're still catchy, to be certain, and they've retained the best of the songs from their old set, but there's something new to reckon with in their mix of razor-sharp songwriting and old-school dynamics--a raw-throated howl in the singing and a more frenzied, urgent quality in the playing that's utterly compelling.

The old journalistic shorthand with the HollowPoints (which this writer has been guilty of in the past) of continually comparing them to Social Distortion or Anti-Flag doesn't really apply anymore. One can now also hear more raggedly human ingredients like the Swingin' Utters or downright blood-curdling thrash like early Discharge. This is partly due to the pared-down, more aggressive style of new drummer Dan Colley, as well as second guitarist Ronnie Schoeneman's amicable departure, which necessitated more guitar attack from singer/guitarist Matt McKinney and bass player Ben Early.

Meanwhile, as the music has changed, the HollowPoints' concept of themselves as a "political" band has also undergone a transformation, according to Early: "[The old songs] were personal call-outs to certain things that were making us very aggravated, and the new songs are more like, 'How does the world affect the person?' If you're writing songs for yourself, people are going to see the personal connection with you in the song more than if you're talking about something directly, then they're like, 'No shit.'"

Be sure to make the HollowPoints' upcoming local appearances count, though, as you won't have too many chances to catch the band's new energy this summer. They'll be embarking on a month-long tour at the beginning of July to support their most recent album, Bullet Holes in City Walls, out on Pop Militia Records, and more touring will follow as soon as they release their upcoming 7-inch single on Dirtnap Records in early fall.