On the U.S front this month I received a couple of (loosely defined) singer-songwriter CD's. Holden Richards is a veteran of North Carolina's punk-rock and indie scene. He's played with the likes of the Replacements, Richard Lloyd and Alex Chilton. His most recent album What I Gave Away is an accomplished half-hour of lush Alt. countrified power pop. There are shades of The Byrds, Will Ford and Steven Stills throughout, and the songs slyly alternate from pleasant to poignant ("I Fall Prey").
Thomas Lee, www.treblezine.com - November 2005
On his brand new What I Gave Away, 20-year NC music vet Holden
Richards--punker with the Pound Notes, folk rocker with One Plus Two, and
popper with the Swamis--dizzies you with melody and then reels you in on one
of hundreds of insistent hooks, claiming the perfect middle ground between
Roy Orbison and Bill Lloyd. Gracefully constructed songs like "Losers Day,"
"Let's Just Talk About the Weather," and "So Cool" bring to mind the smart
pop/rock of Chris Stamey, who guests on the album-opening title track. Other
guests read like a Triangle music scene who's who, with Jeff Hart, Lynn
Blakey, John Chumbris, Wes Lachot, Mike Nicholson, and Brent Lambert among
those who drop by. But What I Gave Away is Richards' show, and every lesson
he's learned in two decades of music making is put on luminous display.
- Rick Cornell, Music Monitor - August/September 2005
Holden Richards - What I Gave Away (Independently released CD, Pop)
For every well known musician in the world there are several thousand toiling away in relative obscurity. Despite the fact that he has been writing and recording for many years, North Carolina's Holden Richards remains virtually unknown. And that is a shame...because this man writes and records some absolutely wonderful pop music. Richards was previously in the bands The Pound Notes, One Plus Two, and The Swamis. What I Gave Away is a pure pop album. The tunes ring with chiming guitars and hummable melodies. This is not underground crap, but rather pop music in the classic sense. There are no weird sounds nor dumb studio tricks to get in the way of the melodies. If properly marketed, many of these tracks could easily be digested by the general public. We get the feeling that--whether he is ever commercially successful or not--Mr. Richards will continue making music for all the right reasons. Upbeat tracks include "What I Gave Away," "Stop the Clock," and "Walking Through Walls." Smooth and easy. (Rating: 5/6)
LMNOP.com - July 2005
Meanwhile, former One Plus Two frontman Holden Richards is also still at one
with pop music as a solo act ... sporting a right fine guitar-pop collection called "What I Gave Away."
- The News and Observer - May 2005
On his new CD What I Gave Away, ex-Swami Holden Richards dizzies you with melody and then reels you in on one of hundreds of insistent hooks, claiming the perfect pop middle ground between Roy Orbison and Bill Lloyd.
- The Independent - May 2005
Richards looks like Buddy Holly and sounds a bit like Wilco with a side order of catchy pop hooks ala Marshall Crenshaw. Check out "Losers Day" and you'll see exactly what I mean. Other standouts are "What I Gave Away" and "Lets Just Talk About The Weather". Oh, and I also dig the exotic rhythms of "I Don't Know".
- Ear Candy Magazine - April 2005
"What I Gave Away ...is a romantic, jangly acoustic-driven bit of soaring, yet somber jubilation! A panoply of cool, timeless sounds and healthy doses of acoustic jangle with texture and nuance."
- Not Lame Records January 2005
"Holden Richards did an acoustic 'Radio Free Europe' -- sounds strange
but it really sounded great"
- REMHQ Website, July 9 2001
"Show Me a review of the Swamis 'Not Where I Started From' that doesn't feature the word 'Beatlesque' and I'll show you a writer who refuses to use words that aren't in the dictionary."
- Rick Cornell, Music Monitor 1997
"The Swamis mine that Badfinger/Big Star/XTC wall-of-clean-guitars
pop vein with grace and a solid feel for the genre"
- The Independent 1997
"'Romantic in the world' continues Holden Richard's Beatlesque obsessions with shiny brilliance and focused statement."
- Tony Madiczyk Spectator 1997
"[Not Where I Started From] is based in a melodic country verve
tinged by diverse pop elements and fractured rock, it's full of strong
textures and original arrangements. There are echos of The Band, Gene
Clark, dB's and Let's Active, with Elvis Costello and REM gleaming
- Fenando Naporano Amplifier Magazine Vol 2. No 1. 1996
"Play 'Bones of Contention' once and I can just about guarantee
you'll want to play it again right away. This is the sort of record
that the adjective 'listenable' was coined to describe. Its nine songs
chug along on the strength of one killer hook after another with melodies
sweet enough to rot your teeth."
-David Menconi, News and Observer, April 1992
"The Six songs, all written by lead guitarist Holden Richards, are solid pop/rock tunes tied together as much by the unity of the lyrics as the sound
of the music"
- Walter Rand, Cue Magazine March 1989
"Both are five-strong, feature effervescent pop, and sport affable leaders in
Holden Richards and Chris Stamey. Each man is direct in his style and gaze,
with Stamey offering especially intense visage durng the most psychdelic
of his numbers. Of the two, Richards is the more animated..."
- Susan Meyers, The Dixie Voice 1988
"The Swamis were featured earlier this year on 'The Cradle Tapes'
and member Holden Richards released a couple ablums with One plus Two.
He has come a long way since those days. His voice is stronger, his writing better."
- Melanie Sill, News and Observer 1987
"That is not to say that Richards' songwriting has many flaws
because it really doesn't. In fact with songs like 'Hey Little Girl and 'You'll be Thinking' he has stretched his creative boundaries further than he has in the
past while maintaining the sound his Chapel Hill following
- Daily Tar Heel, February 1986
"Richards did most all the main vocals while switching from rhythm to
short lead fills on his hollow body guitar. The band communicated a good
sense of fun in its presentation, its songs stuffed full of hooks and catchy choruses."
- Durham Morning Herald, January 1986
"Holden has his pop snsibilites in control,
turning out one listenable song after another...
[he] wont make you throw away your Byrds or REM records
just yet, but [he's] working on it"
- Daily Tar Heel 1985
"No, this group has a fresh, Byrds-like sound
puctuated by a bubbly bass and Holden Richards' stellar
- Sweet Potato, Mass Music, January 1985