The Cave Singers – 'No Witch' (UK Release: 28 Feb '11)
They’re newly on the Jagjaguwar label (home to Oneida, one of my very favourite bands), their album is co-produced by Randall Dunn (who often works with some of my very favourite bands, like Black Mountain), and so, undeterred by the cover art which suggests a Biffy Clyro tribute group, I give 'No Witch', the third and recently released recording by Seattle-based trio, The Cave Singers, a listen.
Honestly, it’s a bit slow to get going. The first two tracks ('Gifts And The Raft' and 'Swim Club') are fine but unremarkable slices of new American folk influenced songcraft. Then 'Black Leaf' picks up the pace, and the record really gets going with fourth track 'Falls'. From here on it gets a little bit darker, a little bit less predictable and a whole lot more enjoyable.
'Outer Realms' has an Eastern tinge, turning electric blues (as does 'Faze Wave'), and even the songs that start gently don’t stay that way ('Haller Lake', 'All Land Crabs And Divinity Ghosts'). There’s a contemporary nod to rhythm and blues era Rolling Stones ('Haystacks'), and the slide guitar driven rockabilly of 'No Prosecution If We Bail' to finish.
The words are good too, particularly on the songs which leave the world of nature and dive into the city for an altogether more visceral experience. Less of the canyons, creeks and rainbows and a bit more rough and tumble. Almost like Charles Bukowski.
The Cave Singers emerged from the decline of indie rock (formed by Derek Fudesco following the demise of Pretty Girls Make Graves), to make unplugged, lo-fi music, and in doing so surfed a pretty crowded wave. Or as the lyrics to 'Haller Lake' put it - "Everyone’s on a long walk; Ten huttin’, tin cuppin’ the same streets."
Their first two albums are, despite the hype, fairly uninspiring, but 'No Witch' might be a point of departure. It certainly feels like it makes sense as a journey and what it reveals along the way is an interesting take on the new folk movement, suggesting that as much as things have moved on, there’s a lot of unexplored side roads that are worth checking out.
The Cave Singers have made a fine effort to bring their folk to a grittier and more challenging place - which seems to me like a good move.
MP3 DOWNLOAD: The Cave Singers - 'No Witch'
MP3 DOWNLOAD: The Cave Singers - 'Black Leaf'
Purchase 'No Witch' at amazon.co.uk, Jagjaguwar (who have provided the downloads above), iTunes etc.