I wasn’t planning to write today, it’s Saturday. Strange, I never used to pay that much attention to the working world’s bowel movements.
I planned to make some noises of my own, maybe take a walk… I put the new Cave Singers record on while I checked my email (it’s a disease) and bought some new guitar strings on Ebay (sorry local guitar shop dude, but they’re half the price and they don’t look at me like I should also be buying the Gretsch… at least I don’t download them!
I heard the last Cave Singers album quite a few times through, while working in a record shop & café. It was a good one to put on, mildly pleasing. Some people bought it on a whim, others just carried on drinking their coffee. It didn’t move me all that much though I always felt that these guys had their own approach, a whip that might one day crack.
And what do you know? Crack bang, Welcome Joy. I might even have to buy me a copy of this one. The “isn’t it sweet, the way they fingerpick one string at a time” naïveté has grown up into some unabashed innocent revelling in music, keeping the charm and dropping the nu-folk gimmickry. I’m not saying they were contrived before, but what was inoffensive has become powerful in a rather surprising way. Particularly surprising considering that half of these songs sound very much like tracks from that old record.
This record embodies those moments when you stop taking yourself too seriously and allow emotion and enthusiasm to carry you away. It does to me anyhow. Pride sacrificed on the altar of uncalculated engagement with the world. Running to meet a lover, singing mock spiritual chants to yourself while driving home from a Welsh festival… You know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, I’d suggest you’d get learning or die twisted.
Didn’t expect that did you? It was all going a bit Dawson’s Creek there for a while wasn’t it? And then it got all finger-pointy and death-driven. Yeah, any of these tracks could be used to soundtrack whatever show the American TV networks are using to exploit the folk-inclined dreamer youth and their confused and agitated blend of sincerity and manipulative lusting, but I don’t care. I’ve seriously debated not further displaying the remnants of my fifteen year old self’s interaction and let’s just say affinity for the aforementioned TV show; but the beast has reared its head, a battle must be had. Or not.
Is this all about me justifying my liking for something that doesn’t have a lethal dose of cynicism half-cocked in an ankle holster? Maybe, but I know more than a few people who have been scared off this kind of music by a handful of semi-recent trailblazers who left behind a bitter, laboratory born taste on the tongue. You probably know what I’m talking about, it started with songs about teeth and it’s (hopefully) coming to an end with drab acts like Golden Animals.
So we’ve retreated further into claustrophobic self-awareness, avant metal, half baked ideas of musical transcendence and Sun City Girls re-issues. Which is all well and good, but personally I’ve been looking for a dose like this and I feel like I can trust these dudes to administer it both ways.
The passionate and sensual Blakean innocence is not gestured, implied or worn on the sleeve; it’s part of an underlying approach to life that culminates in the songs, almost accidentally you might say, though I’m sure they’re aware of it. As such you can follow the scent back to the source and have a bit of it for yourself. So many times people dredge the bay for a Beach Boys reference, but here I can actually feel it.
The sound? Reverbed guitars jangle, uplifting major chords are speckled with golden arpeggiated drops. Tambourines… err… do their thing, the drums rustle up the forest floor, cheap wooden scrapers achieve their lifelong ambitions and the most natural and most wholesome of resolutions resolve themselves wherever there is anything that could conceivably be resolved. Naturally.
Impassioned and urgent vocals (eccentric and slightly old man of the mountain in character), harmonies that reach out. Lyrics that lay things bare for inspection: cloud burials for relationships and self deception, love or at least respect for the circling vultures and a search for a better way of living and being. All of the above is animated and driven home by a heady romanticism flowing unimpeded…
I like it!