Personnel: Amy Cuthbertson (cello).
Recording information: Colombia, SC, USA (2013).
Holo Pleasures/California Dreamin' brings together Elvis Depressedly's 2013 EP Holo Pleasures and the previously unreleased California Dreamin', an additional six tracks recorded during the same sessions. Thusly predating 2015's New Alhambra, admirers of that album will find the contents of Holo Pleasures/California Dreamin' to be fuzzier and more immersed in echo than the later work. The EPs' reflective lo-fi contemplates without dwelling, the combined 12 tracks clocking in at less than 25 minutes. Bandleader Mat Cothran still manages to establish memorable melodies and affecting moods in this set of musical swatches. Scene-setting opening track "Okay" carries an Elliott Smith-evoking tune mirrored by a melodic bassline and delivered with more distorted production. Tunes like "Inside You" and "Weird Honey," also from the first half of the collection, build atmosphere mostly with chugging guitars and drums, the latter song reinforcing daydreamy textures and intimate, impressionistic lyrics with humming synths. Later, the California Dreamin' tracks range from the folk-rock persona of "Angel Cum Clean" to the Burt Bacharach-tinged orchestral pop of "Slip," with its vibrant horn voicings and syncopated keyboard lines sounding like a car radio emission in the '70s. The wistful yet summery "Holo Pleasures (California Dreamin')" has Cothran doubled by bandmate Delaney Mills on lead vocals. Faint, ethereal backing vocals sweeten the arrangement of rhythm guitar, drums, and manipulated melodic effects. While the second EP has a slightly sunnier, more relaxed disposition than the first, the collection plays well as a single entity and going forward could well be considered a fine predecessor of New Alhambra, release date technicalities aside. ~ Marcy Donelson