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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Holopaw
Holopaw
Sub Pop Records

Rating: NR/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Holopaw: a word derived from the Native American term meaning a place where something is hauled. Holopaw is also a town south of Orlando, located in a somewhat backwoods region of central Florida. Front man John Orth confesses that the meaning and geographic location of Holopaw were not a factor in choosing it as thee name for his solo outing; Orth's name and voice you may recognize from Ugly Cassanova; a collaborative project conceived and organized by Issac Brock (Modest Mouse), also released on Sub Pop Records, in 2002. Although a native of Gainesville, Fl Orth has never actually been to the city of Holopaw, nor was he aware of it's linguistic origins, he merely liked the way it sounded. Both are entirely appropriate though, characteristic and uncannily related to the fading portraits of a distinct southern life and culture that Holopaw paints on its eponymous debut.

Similar to many artists of the depression-era, namely photographer Walker Evans and songwriter Woody Guthrie, who through their photographs and songs (respectively) of fleeting, southern landscapes captured the stark realities of life with intense sincerity; Holopaw present the details of life and love with a clarity that is bone-chilling. Orth and company capture the beauty, strength and fragility of geographic and interior landscapes, and present snapshots of a culture that can only be remembered through the timeless traditions passed down by word of mouth.

The songs of Holopaw wander through a mixture of bluegrass, country, roots and soul. Orth's voice carries each song with varied intensity, at times quivering, other times struggling to emerge, only to join in a chorus of acoustic guitar, mandolin, slide pedal steel and various other warm buzzes and hums that fade in and out and are as likely to be a malfunctioning AM radio in an adjacent room, as they are the cadence of distant rain and thunder. On "Short-Wave-Hum (Stutter)" Orth's voice trembles over the strums of acoustic guitar, "hook your finger in a coffee cup for a tiny little anchor." His expression changes on "Cinders" to a soulful but deflated squeak that rises and falls with the exhausted trumpets that accompany him.

Whether Orth is crooning about clinging to something in quiet desperation or recalling a place or feeling with sweet nostalgia, the longing he describes is real and extremely palpable. Holopaw's debut is definitely one of the finest, most moving and sincere albums I have heard in a very, very long time.

Reviewed by Danielle Marusa
A resident of Malvern, Pennsylvania, Danielle is an occasional contributor to LAS.

See other reviews by Danielle Marusa

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