HOLOPAW Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness

by Jack Diablo
After two full length albums on the venerable Sub Pop label, Gainesville’s Holopaw has found a home for their third release in St. Augustine’s Bakery Outlet Records. Why they chose this small but impressive label over the competition is anybody’s guess. Especially when your options include Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse’s Glacial Pace Recordings.
When I received my first taste of Holopaw, I vehemently bemoaned their lack of a drummer during their opening set for Elvis Perkins in Dearland. Thankfully the drums are present on the album along with some beautiful arrangements and John Orth’s unique vocals. Orth’s lyrics read like poetry and are sung with a distinct vibrato that echo the substance of his words. As if that wasn’t enough, backing vocals are provided by Erin Tobey of Pink Razors and friends from Taigaa!, Mahogany and the Good Good provide violin, trombone and clarinet to the already impressive lineup.
Listening to Holopaw is not unlike reading a heady novel. It’s not something you can completely digest the first go-round. There are layers and metaphors that have to be processed and sampled again before their significance is properly understood. In that way Holopaw does not make for good background music. Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness really should be experienced with the full package of the album, lyrics sheet and album artwork, before you. Apparently this album is even bigger than the release it originally received, as the band has asked 24 visual artists to interpret the album in whatever way they see fit. This creatively ambitious project derives its inspiration from a line in ‘The Lazy Matador,’ one of the album’s tracks. The results can be found on the band’s blog at www.holopawmusic.blogspot.com.
The genius on this album is pretty undeniable. Whether or not it’s the kind of album you’ll be into depends upon just how deep you are prepared to go. But I say go for it.