News broke today that a new record is on the way from Gainseville’s Holopaw, a band featuring the songwriting of the immensely talented and consistently underrated John Orth. Known mostly for his work with Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock in Ugly Cassanova, Orth is among the more adept purveyors of hushed, autumnal indie rock—in the same vein as Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam or, perhaps more appropriately, Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg. The new album, Oh Glory. Oh Wilderness. is reportedly a bit more heavily orchestrated, which is nice, and the first single, “The Art Teacher and the Little Stallion” is available as a free download here.
In the press release for the record, there’s a quote from Isaac Brock, even though I’m pretty sure Isaac Brock’s name doesn’t carry any real weight anymore. He does, however, make an interesting point about what passes for singing in today’s music world.
I don’t believe that many people actually sing these days. Generally “singing” usually sounds like some sort of talking or yelling in tune. Bjork sings, Chan Marshall of Cat Power sings, that Thom Yorke fellow from Radiohead sings, and yes, you saw it coming. John Orth from Holopaw also sings. That’s what really grabbed me: the singing and the lyrics. With a quivering, liquid voice and lyrics that make you feel like you’re standing there and smelling the air of all four seasons; the sky is the perfect color that it only becomes for a few minutes, every once in a while. You’re heartbroken, you’re in love, the world’s not complicated.
I agree that John Orth has a really great voice. I don’t know what exactly qualifies it as “singing” by Brock’s definition, though I suspect it’s actually Orth’s infuriating tendency to sing the end of each line like he’s either shivering or crying. Regardless, is Brock right about no one really singing anymore?
You can throw Antony Hegarty’s name out there, obviously. And those guys in Grizzly Bear certainly like to sing. I’d also vouch for Colin Meloy and maybe, to a lesser extent, Will Sheff, who might not have the best voice in the world, but who definitely puts it all out there as if he did. And this is to say nothing of people like Sam Beam or M. Ward, who sing their hearts out, just at a lower volume.
Who am I forgetting? Go ahead everyone, tell Isaac Brock all about it.