As far as debut albums go, you either want to nail it or go down in a fireball of hated glory (hey, at least you got a reaction, right?). That the Astoria-based quintet, Holiday Friends, have managed to do the former is surprising only in that, if you didn’t know better, you’d think this was the third or fourth entry in a long-running discography. That is to say, Holiday Friends already possess the poise, self-assurance, and chops of a veteran ensemble.
Major Magic, set for release in early-September, is an amalgamation of influences, genres and sounds gelled into a coherent and uplifting package. Marked by passages of bounding percussion and soaring melodies, the record unfolds with the kind of energy and momentum that we’ve come to expect from the PNW music scene.
Each of the ten tracks has a distinctly different feel, and it’s hard to tell if that was a conscious decision or simply a result of the group’s clearly wide-ranging sensibilities. “All Last Autumn,” the opening track, kicks off with a strummed acoustic pattern before quickly launching into a synth-heavy hook complimented by plenty of reverb and stellar vocal crescendos. The next track, “Astral Observations,” is a Passion Pit-style romp that tumbles around a twinkling synth line and booming, kick-drum heavy percussion. The title track is a subdued, echo-y occasion that builds from a simple vocal/reverb intro into a roiling, guitar-driven experience. The contrast is evident and refreshing.
At each turn, the guitar lines are timely, the synth is emphatic, and the bass lines impeccable. The vocals and percussion work nicely off each other both in concert and counterpoint. From beginning to end, Major Magic offers enough variation and surprise to be consistently engaging. Don’t be fooled – these new dogs clearly know old tricks. »
– Charles Trowbridge
Holiday Friends celebrate the release of Major Magic this Friday, September 12 at Mississippi Studios.