with Lia Ices
Thursday, March 24
Imagine a band comprised of steaming momentum that has been abruptly decompressed and cooled in a folk-rock mold. That band, Seattle's the Cave Singers, came together in 2007 for a kinder, gentler recording project. Its members cut their teeth in art-punk and prog-rock outfits, all wound-up energy and attitude, but according to drummer Marty Lund, the collaboration wasn't as abrupt as it seems.
Lund, formerly of Seattle math-rock band Cobra High, happened to be living near Derek Fudesco, former bassist and co-vocalist of Pretty Girls Make Graves and Murder City Devils, and Pete Quirk of Hint Hint.
"Derek and Pete were roommates," Lund says. "They had both been doing their own little recording projects, and then they started doing stuff together. I was kind of doing the same thing. I lived nearby and I knew both of them for quite a while. So when they got more serious and wanted to start playing shows, they got me onboard."
The resulting group possesses a looseness that none of their previous bands would have allowed for. One can practically hear the sigh of relief on the Cave Singers' records, an exuberant embrace of music's simpler pleasures. As evidenced on last month's No Witch, their third album, the band has been freed from the constraints of difficult time signatures and lofty concepts, and is allowed to start over with guttural blues riffs and straightforward, affecting lyrics.
"It was notable at first as kind of a relief, at times," Lund says. "As far as being on tour and being exhausted, but going, ‘Oh, we don't have to go out there and go crazy.' Although now the live show has evolved to where it is a little more high-energy."
The Cave Singers' pedigree earned them immediate notice. Signed to Matador Records in 2007 with a debut LP following a mere two months later, they were welcomed into a burgeoning climate of indie music that had begun to embrace folk-roots influences. While the record featured a more mellow sound than might have been expected from Fudesco, Quirk and Lund, there was still a palpable tension in songs like "Dancing on Our Graves," which has a persistent beat that refuses to arrive at any kind of catharsis.
Fudesco's voice, which ceded the spotlight for the majority of Pretty Girls Make Graves' run, is unexpectedly at home in this folk-rock environment. Its reediness lends a classic quality that suggests past innovators in the folk field.
As the band gears up for a month-long tour through the U.S. and Europe, Lund maintains that "simple" is not the status quo for them.
"It's definitely gotten more upbeat, but not only that," Lund says, "we've definitely gone in several different directions. There are some African influences on this [album], and just some other stuff in the mix. And I think we've all gotten better at playing and writing together. It's evolved into its own weird thing."
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