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Album Review

A delicate, contemplative union of indie rock, country, and electronica, Holopaw's self-titled debut shows off more of John Orth's singing and songwriting talent, which he also displayed on Ugly Casanova's Sharpen Your Teeth. A similarly quirky, backwater sensibility permeates this album, but Holopaw's sound is dreamier and more quietly unconventional. The mix of pedal steel, gurgling synths, and drum machines on songs like "Abraham Lincoln," added to Orth's charmingly frail vocals, make Holopaw a slightly supernatural, hothouse hybrid of different styles and ideas. Though indie-country-tronica isn't quite as iconoclastic as it used to be, Orth's take on this sound is still distinctive from likeminded groups such as Wilco, Sparklehorse, and the Radar Brothers. At times songs like "Hoover" recall the work of the latter two bands, but Holopaw's sound is softer and less stylized; this song and the folky "Pony Apprehension" are both about horses, and you get the impression that they're living creatures instead of merely being metaphorical devices. For the most part, Holopaw stays on the folk and country side of the alt-country equation, even delving into bluegrass territory with the galloping, mandolin-driven "Igloo Glass." However, Orth finds plenty of ways to recombine the main elements of Holopaw's sound into charming variations: "Took It for a Twinkle" rocks, albeit very gently, while the spooky "Cinders" sounds a little like Radiohead's version of alt-country might be like, with its mix of brass, drum machines, and steel guitar loops. Above all, the album is a quiet, restrained affair despite its playful sonics; Orth's singing and arrangements demand your full attention — and headphones, ideally — to bloom completely. Fortunately, Holopaw is such a pretty and promising debut that it rewards concentrated listening.

Customer Reviews

Most definatly the best mellow album in a while

I'm not a big fan of the genre...whatever it is folk, indie rock, but this is pure gold. Really makes you question the credibility of DJs these days with all the crap they play, yet they neglect a gems like all the songs on this album. GOLD I TELLS YA!

Another reason to visit independent music stores

Funky, folky, rocky and an excellent listen. First heard this album playing in the background in a small, independent record store and was hooked. The melding of different styles and effects is very well done. Find a decent landscape to view and plug your head into this album. Can't wait to hear more of their work.

Easy, beautiful, and breathtaking.

Yes, this is a beautiful album. The arrangements are tremendous, with a breadth subtle stuff going on in the background, maybe a few notes of mandolin, piano, pedal steel, bowed string, or even synth blended together into a contiguous and profoundly beautiful bed for the intensely sophisticated yet almost humble lyrics and performance. The more I listen and think about it, the more I'm impressed by the inspired integration of the feel of the music and the images painted by the words. Every song is strong and stands on it's own. This stunning album can play in the background while I work, or I can listen to it as critically as I know how, and it's just leaves me wishing it would go on forever. Thank you, Holopaw, and Tycho from PA for recommending it!


Formed: Gainesville, FL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Gainesville, Florida's delicate indie country-rock group Holopaw features singer/songwriter/guitarist John Orth, who worked with Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock on his side project Ugly Casanova. Brock brought Orth's band to the attention of Sub Pop, who signed Holopaw and released their self-titled debut in early 2003. Two years later, the band offered another collection of pretty, intimate songs, Quit+/or Fight. Though the lineup fluctuated, in 2009 the band resurfaced with Oh, Glory....
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