Holopaw Quit +/or Fight

Holopaw’s 2003 self-titled debut was one that sadly flew under the radar, despite the band’s connections to Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock. As a contributor to Brock’s Ugly Casanova project, Holopaw front-man John Orth brought his and the band’s name into indie rock’s public consciousness. (Brock even made a guest appearance on their debut.) Quit +/or Fight may be without assistance from the now indie rock star, but it seems like they’re better off on their own because this album shows a steadier and more confident band, despite Orth’s quaking fragility as a mouthpiece. Right away there is a difference in texture to the songs that is obviously due to the talents of producer Mike Pecchio, who has taken a softer approach rather than continuing with the coarse touch of Brian Deck, producer of their debut. With this polished sound, Orth and the band are free to tap into more space and melody, both of which were only hinted at before. "Needle in the Sway” shimmers with twinkling guitars that balance Orth’s whimper and compensate for the missing rhythm; the beautiful, hard lucked "Velveteen (All is bright.)” is equal parts Jason Molina and Santa Claus; and "3-shy-cubs” utilises some drumsticks and handclaps for a beat before it bursts into the album’s liveliest stretch. Full of tantalising hushes and vulnerable sweetness, Quit +/or Fight is a strong effort that deserves to make it onto the radar and stick to it for some time. (Sub Pop)