Holopaw Holopaw

The debut outing by this Florida quintet (fronted by Ugly Casanova contributor John Orth) is a fragile lattice connected by unexpected sonic marriages and a thematic atmosphere. Alt-country, folk, indie rock, and some electro noodling team up to create a quirky, down-home rustic soundtrack to raft-floating along swamp marshes or sleepwalking through thick backwoods while dreaming of your country bumpkin Luanne. Gurgling synths, drum machines and brass add to the amalgam of delicate styles, and when these ornamentations take the centre stage to be highlighted in moments of diverging from the country-folk base ("Abraham Lincoln,” "Cinders”), the experimentation resembles Radiohead-esque heights. "Igloo Glass” is one of the album’s few energetic romps (complete with mandolins), yet on the whole, Holopaw infuses the listener with a near-aural narcotic and does not wish to wake the listener from that soft, mellow, ethereal state. There’s a rural mysticism interlacing this ten-song, 31-minute rarity that actually recalls early Van Morrison, yet technical experimentation is what hauls the lazily oozing riverbed into the 21st century. Although the elements seem to add up to possible Sparklehorse or Wilco comparisons (especially on songs like "Hoover”), Holopaw seems to be less predictable, less stylised, and just too damn unique to be directly paralleled to anyone. Orth’s voice does sound eerily like Tracy Chapman’s, though — yikes! (Sub Pop)