Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holopaw goes underground

I first encountered Holopaw when the debut showed up in a box of Splendid review CDs sometime late in 2002…and was immediately transfixed by its whispery intensity. (It didn’t hurt that it was a Sub Pop record in the midst of a pile of self-releases and vanity productions…this was we-review-everything Splendid, after all, and I hadn’t worked my way up the totem pole very far yet.) It was good enough that I went to see Holopaw at my first SXSW. He was holding down the 8 p.m. slot in a long series of much-louder bands. The industry types, there for much-hyped atrocity Hot Hot Heat, talked all the way through the set, which was fairly stunning even so. (This was before iPhones, etc. I’ll say one thing for texting. It’s quiet.) Holopaw’s third album is not on Sub Pop, and the self-release phenomenon (plus a mostly new, much bigger band) seems to free Orth from expectations in a couple of ways. I concluded my review, up today at Dusted, like this:

Oh Glory, Oh Wilderness pulls in two very interesting ways. The more accessible, more exciting arrangements make it more than ever a pop record. Its appeal is immediate, rather than slow burning, and you can see it pulling in fans who are less transfixed by eccentricity, more interested in tightly constructed songs. Yet at the same time, the words and images in these songs are deeply personal and self-revealing in a way that, I think, the first two albums were not. Orth has found a way to make himself more accessible and more himself at the same time with this third album…a neat trick worth repeating.

"The Art Teacher and the Little Stallion"

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