The Cave Singers – No Witch

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, The Cave Singers have a different blend of folk than most of the more traditional stuff coming out of the East.  No Witch is their third proper album, and it continues to further the band’s sound, this time adding some newer elements that give a bit of a twist to their sound.

Beginning the album is “Gifts and the Raft,” which has an extremely quiet whispering element to it, perhaps reinforced by placing vocals atop vocals.  String arrangements give the song more depth, especially when they sound like a shimmer, rather than the more pristine parts that come later. Quiet folk presides with the second track, “Swim Club,” barely changing things up from the first track.  This isn’t a knock by any means, as this song uses some more production twists that enhance The Cave Singers on this adventure.

“Black Leaf” gives No Witch a bit of a lift, with a grittier bit of guitar.  For the whole of the song, you can feel a bit of a folk-stomp building, and this allows for some differentiation before the sound is swallowed up.  However, this song shares so many sonic similarities to “At the Cut” from Welcome Joy that it’s hard to get past the track as a bit of a rehash from the previous record. Still, it allows the group to go beyond just this gentle folk with raspy vocals, moving into a slightly haunting “Falls.”  Here, the pacing alone forces you to fill in the empty space.  Pete Quirk definitely shows off a bit more range here, or at least a bit more technique.  And then suddenly the band heads off into a bit of a psychedelic folk groove mid-track, even using some organ.

It is, of course, great to have some of the past living here, especially with songs like “Outer Realms,” but one would be mistaken to call the rest of the album more run of the mill Cave Singers tracks.  For instance, you have “Clever Creatures,” a song that uses a more present drum track than I remember the band utilizing in the past.  Put that alongside Quirk giving more of a forceful vocal performance throughout the entirety of No Witch, and you have the band moving in a more complete direction.  In the past, while I’ve loved everything, there’s always seemed to be just one thing missing, but this is not the case here at all.  “Haystacks” is one of the record’s stronger offerings, beginning with some harmonica to open it all up.  But, in the middle, you get the feeling of a gospel-influenced folk song, much as they’ve all been traditionally.  It now seems that band have completely moved from being labeled as just a post-punk folk outing.

Whether or not you’re familiar with The Cave Singers is probably irrelevant by this point, as the band seem to have really pushed themselves forward on No Witch.  Yes, you’ll find pleasurable, yet traditional, tracks like “Swim Club” to keep around old fans, but there seems to be so much more within the folds of these tracks.  Just take the brief shrieks on closing track “No Prosecution if We Bail,” and you’ll see that a more rocking element is beginning to emerge.  In the end, the band seems to have grown, filling out their sound with new elements, giving us a record that is anything but incomplete.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/02_Swim_Club_1.mp3]

Download: The Cave Singers – Swim Club [MP3]

2009 Top 50 Albums

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Creating a Top 50 Albums list is never easy.  You have to battle with what you think the world believes, and what you truly believe in your heart, to be solid jams.  We have even more trouble because we have to three writers, all who have different ideas, and we have to make those ideas fit into a neat box.  Well, we got it done, and honestly, our criteria was based on two things: how great we thought the album was, artistically speaking, and how long we listened to it without getting bored.  That’s it. It’s fool proof; you might not like it, but it’s our list, so here it is… Read more

The Cave Singers – Welcome Joy

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Rating: ★★★★½

Most people who have followed this band will surely know that the components that make up The Cave Singers have established themselves in a world outside the folk realm in which they currently live.  Guitarist Derek Fudesco, for example, probably is most well known for his role in Pretty Girls Make Graves, but let’s not get carried away here, as the band are now establishing themselves as a new voice coming out of the rainy Northwest. Welcome Joy is their second album, and it builds upon the strengths of the last record, and in doing so, finishes as one of the better releases of the summer.

When the gentle strumming of “Summer Light” begins the album, you immediately find yourself lost among the foothills of the Appalachians, coated in an earthy morning mist, as the guitars gently strum.  Pete Quirk’s throaty vocals are met here in this scene with additional vocals from Amber Webber of Black Mountain. You expect campfire songs from this band, but you don’t expect them to come off as beautifully simple as this one.

As the group introduces you to “At the Cut” you can here the post-punk influences in the vocal, and they seem to carry over through the song itself, giving it more than just your traditional neo-folk appeal so many people have been living with lately.  It’s this interesting aspect that makes The Cave Singers so appealing to so many.  They aren’t here to play the role of pretty balladeers, though their songs may come off as such; they came here to rock a bit…jangly percussion and all.

While it appears at times as if Quirk smoked too much at times, this album finds him with perfect accompaniment.  Amber Webber is joined by her sister Ashley on “Shrine,” and it carries the song from something rather banal into an otherworldly country stomp towards the end of the song. This is followed by “Hen of the Woods,” which stands out as one of the great tracks on this album, among many great tracks.  There’s nothing you can really explain about this song, but you’ll be sure to feel it as it comes through your stereo.

“VV” is one of the brighter songs on the album, coming in near the end with harmonious guitar parts, as light as you’ll find on this album.  Oddly, this is the one song on the album that seems rooted in traditional folk writing, although the structure of the song itself towards the middle definitely has a more modern spin upon it.  And as Welcome Joy draws to a close with “Townships” and “Bramble” you begin to notice the care that The Cave Singers put into the production of this album.  Every inch of space seems well thought out, as if they left various places open for your mind to wonder in the woods of your own brain.  To top it off, it never seems to get old; it never runs in place.  An album such as this is a delight, and dare we say, a Welcome Joy, as the summer comes to a close.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/the-cave-singers-at-the-cut.mp3]

Download: The Cave Singers – At The Cut [MP3]

New Tunes from The Cave Singers

cavesingersWe’ve mentioned The Cave Singers before, and we loved their set a few years back at Fun Fun Fun Fest, so when news came about concerning a new album, we were excited. This new album, Welcome Joy comes out via Matador on August 18th, and we’re sure it will be nothing short of delicious. On the new song, there is a bit of an edge to it, which isn’t surprising considering the past of the trio.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/the-cave-singers-at-the-cut.mp3]

Download: The Cave Singers – At The Cut [MP3]

New Tunes from The Cave Singers

SUN0124 Cave SingersLong ago there was this killer band called Murder City Devils. They had this one guy who ended up in Pretty Girls Make Graves, who then left to start The Cave Singers. Now that I’ve name dropped enough, let me tell you that Derek Fudesco’s new outfit resembles neither of his past efforts, not even close. Still, it just goes to show you that punks like to folk it up. So, the new tunes are slated to appear on the next Cave Singers album, Welcome Joy, which is slated for an August release. Here you go folks.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/the-cave-singers-beach-house.mp3]

Download: The Cave Singers – Beach House [MP3]