Holopaw: Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness. (Bakery Outlet) 

After two albums of wispy, hushed folk with electronic atmospherics, Holopaw, for all intents and purposes, disbanded.

Only vocalist John Orth and guitarist Jeff Hays remained. Yet after recruiting a handful of new members and a smattering of additional players, the group fleshed out its sound with the usual suspects (guitars, bass, drums) and further accompaniment from cello, violins and horns.

The result: Holopaw's meatiest release, an album of magnificent heights and gorgeous depths. The album starts with the seasick "The Art Teacher and the Little Stallion," which rides a guitar tremor and Orth's windy vocalizations to create a minor anthem. Elsewhere, the band flexes its muscles on "P-a-l-o-m-i-n-e," which balances Orth's tremulous vocals and a weeping violin before riding waves of jagged guitar riffs and crashing drums. Of course, Holopaw's finesse has always been paramount to their unique allure. "The Last Transmission (Honeybee)" is a reflective gem with slide guitar shimmers and Orth's cooing vocals.

Still, the band is too revitalized with new life to stick to the soft margins, so on most of the tracks, Holopaw jumps at the opportunity to revel in explosive or soaring glory. "The Lazy Matador," for instance, works a clockwork guitar line into a tempered, lovely conclusion with lilting strings and steady drums. Meanwhile, "Boys on Motorbikes" closes powerfully with a rocky passage of buzzing guitars and crashing drums.

A near-immaculate and wholly enjoyable album, Oh, Glory. Oh, Wilderness. is a further step in the right direction for an already impressive outfit.

More by Michael Petitti


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