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Holiday Murray Album Cover

Holiday Murray

by Nadine Theron / 06.05.2011

Amongst the flags fairy lights and retro artefacts, Holiday Murray introduced their debut album at Frieda’s; embracing the lucky few in a glowing ambience, the enchantment reminiscent of Beirut’s “Elephant Gun” video. A rich cream of Cape Town’s cool was spread thick over the affair. The show started with a screening of the video for their single, “Jirey”, and soon, to avoid suffocating in the overwhelming glorification of aesthetic appeal, I had to go outside for air.

Holiday Murray

The actual music part of the music-video unfortunately could not escape the same fate, the Hipster Westlife flashes on the screen; boys in white riding bikes in the sunshine down tree-lined avenues in the top tourist destination in the world, then wrapped in colourful flapping rags becoming hipster hippies. The delightful CD sleeve design proves why the same destination was nominated as international design capital of 2012: Pastel, darling illustrations, feathers, coffee stains… the simple white disc nestled in recyclable cork and egg carton between sheaves of mystical diagrams and hand-written lyrics and (always a winner) retro pictures of the sea and mountains. Oh Nostalgia, you get us every time. But this is no Instagram creation, Thomas Pepler’s design truly captures the folky feel of Holiday Murray.

Here we should pause and lament the necessity of above two paragraphs, that well-executed packaging these days arouses suspicion: What are they compensating for? One fears another over-designed band concept selling like gourmet cupcakes, gobs of glittering bright icing disguising a tasteless bake.

Holiday Murray – Jirey [Official Video] from Holiday Murray on Vimeo.

Attractive CD sleeve, attractive fans, attractive launch party, attractive Beach Boys attire… Holiday Murray should be really grateful that they aren’t a foursome of classically pretty boys. What with all the attractiveness around them, it would be hard to look beyond the aesthetics – and lo’ there is so much more once your obligatory anti-hipster pride is swallowed and prejudice thrust aside.

Folk it is; Crosby, Stills and Nash it is not. It’s Vampire Weekend with Kooks’ vocals, Bat for Lashes’ magic and, regrettably, New Holland moments (unavoidable since the band is managed and the album was recorded by TeeJay Terre’blance.) I have to emphasise that the The Kooks reference refers only to the vocals and the vocals alone, possibly this is because James Tuft can actually carry a melody and stay in tune, a pop characteristic which falls sweetly on the ear.

Holiday Murray

At first the fact that you don’t notice the jump between the first and second song disappoints but then the way the tracks flow into each other becomes pleasing. The self-titled album is the modern-day rarity of a cohesive debut album, one that could, should and will be listened to – this must be applauded. The first few songs build toward the Murrays’ current hit single and then… Surprise! One is tricked out of the temptation to lose interest in the last four songs which turn out to be the most substantial part of the album.

“Homeless and Happy” drags you down and raises an eyebrow for anyone who knows that Holiday Murray members are not exactly impoverished, it’s highly possible that the intended meaning of this song isn’t clear but besides the lack of the lyrics’ ability to conjure emotions, musically it drags and lags and the dwindling guitar makes it the boring song you will want to skip on an otherwise very complete album.

Holiday Murray

“Fantasy The Woods” with haunting vocals is so Bat for Lashes, maybe also because both bands ride bikes in their first music videos although BFL’s Natasha Kahn does so through the woods. “Nested” is quirky and filled with folky folly where a Crosby, Stills and Nash influence is actually recognisable. It wouldn’t be surprising if “Antagonizer” is the second single, seems a justifiable choice as the Use Somebody/Epic Love Song of the album. The song is musically immersive and you’ll find yourself mouthing “Nobody escapes me like you do” while hurriedly looking around for a you that would complete the picture, temporarily, for the duration of the song. “The Sea Finds Me” and “Be a Bird” with its ‘hidden’ cute drumming end doesn’t sound like Devendra Banhart at all but has his titles, atmosphere and most importantly, heart.

Holiday Murray know what they want to work on and if they focus on that, like they intend to, their next one could earn them that succesful second album status. The band members themselves said they would likes less “dah-dah-dah” in their songs, and it’s very clear what they mean. It’s the “dah-dah-dah” which ever so slightly pushes some songs into the grey of monotony now and then. Apart from the many other musical subtleties, they have done one major thing right: Not blatantly sounding like a particular international act. One can’t help but wonder though what other delightful offerings SA could deliver musically if everyone had parent-on-draught to keep them from being poisoned by activities other than music.

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  1. Chad says:

    You write well, Miss Theron.

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  2. optional says:

    agree’d. pity the content is a little unseeing..

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  3. Adriaan says:

    Nice Article but when are journalist going to learn to credit photographers?

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  4. Roger Young says:

    @Adriaan. Press release pictures. It wasn’t stated that pictures MUST be credited. Suck it up.

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  5. Adriaan says:

    ja boet. I guess. but isn’t that just standard practice? If one quote’s someone u add the name at the end of it dont you?

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  6. Roger Young says:

    Jesus Adriaan, are we really going to argue about standard practices? If someone sells you their words you don’t have to credit them, same as pictures. We take the pics from a press release as a service from the publicity agency, unless implicitly stated we do not have to credit the photog or photogs as would be in this case. Do you really want us to individually credit each photograph? Won’t this shift focus from the bad to the photographers, who are meant to be serving the music. It’s precisely this kind of thinking that Nadine was talking about upfront.

    Your images are meant to serve the band, your client. It’s not about you.

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  7. CFK says:

    ah, nothing like a good off-topic argument in the comments section. a regular sighting on Mahala boards.

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  8. CFK says:

    also, i love that journalists seem to think they know everything about the artists they’re reviewing based on…well, nothing at all. “parent-on-draught” – really? for all you know, these boys might be studying, have jobs, or both. a little parental support does not equal spoiled brats with all the free time in the world.

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  9. Fred Durst says:

    Louw, isn’t it standard practice to contact the magazine privately about this shit, instead of moaning in public.


    I think the Murray’s are fucking rad. And if you read the interview (not linked! bad mahala, bad!) you’ll see there is lots of musical shit they still want to explore, early days, i expect big things.

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  10. Roger Young says:

    @Fred Durst and CFK

    Our apologies, we should have linked the interview where the boys refer to their financial situation as “parent on draught”


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  11. Sebastian says:

    I read hipster far too many times.
    Christ almighty.
    This article would’ve been far better with out stating your obvious, generic and ultimately worthless opinion on the whole affair.

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  12. Nadine Theron says:

    The song’s name is The Woods, not Fantasy The Woods. Little inverted comma’s, big difference.

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  13. The Real Sebastian says:

    This article would have been much better without Sebastian’s obvious, generic and ultimately worthless opinion in the comments section…

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  14. Flower baps for Nadine... says:

    Your review is:

    50% right

    50% wrong

    100% predictable

    0% relevant

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  15. mega-douche says:

    wow, didn’t read the write up. But wow! Who took/made these groundbreaking, poignant photographs? So masterful this/these uncelebrated genius/es. Ah well…

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  16. sanitas says:

    Kak hippy folk. Die!

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  17. louie says:

    are they all gay?

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  18. Smash Adams says:

    I googled “Holiday Murray suck” and came across this article. Well, whether you’re up your own arsehole or not, I have to agree with you on this one. I don’t know why so many local bands feel the need to emulate international acts so disastrously. It just seems so spineless and contrived. Have influences yes of course, everybody gleans inspiration from someone/ somewhere, but for Gods-sakes, leave the quirky Caleb Followill-esque squeals to Caleb Followill…. Please.

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  19. Kamakiriad says:

    I saw them perform live @ Dbn BotGarden. Very good. Their sound is fresh for SA, very folk-rock meets americana via fleet-foxes. They’ll do better stateside than over here. Audiences here aren’t ready for this.

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  20. […] outlook that they present. Yes, I called the Fleet Foxes ostentatious although you should listen to Holiday Murray to understand. They have this unbelievable folk vibe that grabs and holds you. It takes you on a […]

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  21. Anonymous says:

    Good lord, this is the most terribly written and painfully self-indulgent review I’ve ever read.

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