A member of the Modest Mouse-associated Ugly Casanova, John Orth has opted for something more approachable with his new outfit, although retaining wildly creative producer Brian Deck ensures that an odd spin is being put on even the most conventional chord progression here. It’s rustic, angular Americana, for sure, but Holopaw is as indebted to Nick Drake, Captain Beefheart and the Smiths as it is to Califone, Son Volt and Whiskeytown. Some will frown at the use of cupboards, computers and other instruments not associated with Hank Williams, but there’s nothing ironic or disrespectful to Holopaw’s approach. Orth presents an idiosyncratic vision of the New West that glances backwards for inspiration and suggestions to new beginnings, turning worn-out phrases inside-out to bring new life and viability to them. It’s wrapped up so subtly and unassumingly, you’ll wonder if you’re dreaming the sudden odd musical twists. Repeated listening reveals Holopaw to be both a richly textured and profoundly moving record, one of the year’s first truly mesmerizing folk albums.
Sub Pop Records: http://www.subpop.com/