Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Holopaw, a five strong, ragtag group of string-benders, knob-twiddlers and finger pickers from Gainesville, Florida. Throughout, human fragility teeters on the edge of electric malfunction, dutifully powered along by pe... more »
Holopaw, a five strong, ragtag group of string-benders, knob-twiddlers and finger pickers from Gainesville, Florida. Throughout, human fragility teeters on the edge of electric malfunction, dutifully powered along by pedal steels and steel pedals alike. We quickly came to realize that the strength of this band lies in the many contradictions they present: stripped acoustic arrangements are unsettled by electronic pulses and swells that fade in and out of songs like the warble of a short-wave radio. The sweetest melodies are splintered with stories of broken backs and horses tangled in bridal veils. A sweet, spare vocal track is suddenly pulled under by a rush of dark, spiraling voices, only to surface again - more beautiful still for the contrast. It is these contradictions that might make Holopaw hard to describe, but harder still to ignore.
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Member CD Reviews
Bonnie K. from ATLANTA, GA
Reviewed on 8/15/2010...
Excellent modern southern rock. Lyrically rich and evocative. The lead singer's voice is beautiful and unique. The first tine I heard the band his actually vibrated up and down my spine in a delicious yet eerie way. I beautiful debut.
Junkmedia Review - Debut that carries the weight of its hype
junkmedia | Los Angeles, CA | 02/19/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One has got to hand it to Sub Pop. They aren't afraid to go backwoods in order to find new sounds to add to an already eclectic roster. Having unearthed a rough diamond in central Florida with the discovery of Samuel Beam (Iron and Wine) last year, one shouldn't be surprised to see them digging in the same dirt with the self-titled debut from Holopaw. And while there are bound to be comparisons between the two projects because of their shared geography and Southern styled folk, the biggest difference between them is also the most obvious. Holopaw is a band, and not the work of one man. As a result, the five guys in Holopaw trade in Beam's intimate claustro-folk beauties for some laid-back porch playing as they pass the jug under shooting stars. It's a musical communion that appears to run deep between them all, and in that sense, one could say that Holopaw plays The Band to Samuel Beam's Bob Dylan. Clearly that analogy doesn't work on a lot of levels, but like The Band, Holopaw isn't afraid to gussy up the traditional with a little experimentation. And at first listen, one hardly notices the latter, thinking that they are just a group of indie guys indulging themselves in an "O' Brother" moment. Mainly, because it's a good one at that. Strummed acoustic guitars, flashes of mandolin, a mournful cello and peels of pedal steel weave up and over each other with ease. The music is settled and settling. One could lay down in the tall grass by the river and just about ... doze ... off ... But before anyone has a chance, a whole host of sounds start to make their way out of the woodwork to pull the listener back. Strange loops, percussive twitches and a couple of analog synthesizers flow below the other instruments, giving the songs a languid and ethereal feel. Occasionally, these sonic touches surface before slipping back under, but they never sound forced or distract from the wistful nostalgia that saturates the album. In fact, the subtle mix of acoustic instruments with warm electric washes gives Holopaw's songs a surprising amount of depth. Without them, the songs would be pretty, but they'd also be as flat and redundant as still water after a couple of listens. Another aspect of Holopaw that recalls The Band is that they actually sing. Lead singer John Orth has a unique voice that sounds both fragile and strong, falling somewhere between Will Oldham's (when he actually sings; think "Raining in Darling") and Tracy Chapman. And if that just turned off any of you indier-than-thou folks, it's your loss. The emotive double-hitched quiver in his voice can make one's heart feel like a bucket of rusty nails, while his higher notes blend well with the rest of the band when they chime in behind him. "Hula-la," and "Teacup Woozy" are just two of the many tracks that showcase this band's vocal talents. It's this ability that lead Isaac Brock to ask Orth to join Ugly Casanova on last year's Sharpen Your Teeth. On that album, Orth co-wrote and sang a number of the slower, standout tracks like "Hotcha Girls" and "Smoke Like Ribbons." After hearing his own band, it's clear that he was a major influence on Brock's newfound tunefulness. Many of the songs on Holopaw rival those mentioned above, but "Pony Apprehension" (Brock adds mandolin) and "Took it for a Twinkle" surpass them with a lazy brilliance and stunningly sweet lyrics. In the second of the two, Orth offers the following image: Canaries light on corn cob pipes
and would not look so bright
if not so cold Vivid natural imagery like this butts up against "telephone wires ... [and] transistor radios" throughout the album. In doing so, Orth manages to magnify and minimize the "wide open spaces" that he sings about. A lot more could-and probably will-be said about this excellent debut, even though it doesn't quite measure up to Beam's effort with Iron & Wine last year. However, at its core, this is the type of record that makes one want to celebrate the unique beauty that can occur when a handful of individuals get together to make music. Let's hope that the band continues to build on the promise of this offering. Barin McGrath
January 28, 2003
Solid, unique album
Susan I Whitney | Ann Arbor | 01/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first heard of Holopaw through their lead singer John Orth's contribution to Ugly Casanova's Sharpen Your Teeth. I was really impressed with the songs he contributed to and when I heard of Holopaw's debut CD I couldn't wait to hear it. I was not disappointed.Holopaw's songs are very emotional and very visual. Their music, while it has a variety of electronic elements, can only be described as country; indeed, their music is infused with the swamp, isolation, and comfort of the rural Central Florida they call home. Every track conjures ghostly, surreal landscapes which appear in my mind desolate and beautiful, unlike anything I had really imagined before. Holopaw's perfect fusion of music and lyrics is truly breathtaking. I cannot remember the last time I was so impressed by an album on first listen. If you're looking for some tracks to download before deciding whether to buy the album I recommend "Abraham Lincoln," the stark opening track, or the soaring "Short Wave Hum," my personal favorite on the disc."