! = recommended
* = all-ages
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Pretty Girls Make Graves/Murder City Devils musician Derek Fudesco sat down (literally) to pick at a little jig. Just brittle, minimalist little guitar lines, more in common with art-punk rock like Wire or even Robert Fripp than the robust traditionalism of country rock, but played on an acoustic guitar. More-electro/less-rock, Hint Hint's Pete Quirk came along to happily harmonize some trippy images through it, and the even weirder/more aggressive Cobra High gave the trio its last defining elemental base in percussionist Marty Lund.
The story really isn't that much more heavier than that. A couple of albums on Matador didn't freak the normals to the point of phenomenon, but it assured fans of the band's dense, gently dizzying, near-trance-folk-rock-plenty-more jams. I would recommend experiencing the band live before bringing up questions about authenticity (none of the bands listed above lusted after audio verisimilitude, so expecting a genuine hoe-down development from TCS is rather silly), and sharing the glow of their toe-tapping timberline-tapestries with the hushed throng who digs 'em instead. It's all in fun, man.
But it is more an experiment than an attempt to write the great American novel in pop song, or even replicate the sound of the weather and the ghosts of the Northwest. Like The Ramones, The Cave Singers are a kind of garage rock. Just as nostalgic-sounding, meant-for-dancing, based-in-character play as any few guys in leather jackets with big amps.
No Witch, the band's collaboration with Black Mountain, Boris, and Sun O))) producer Randall Dunn, is a great place to start with The Cave Singers. As expected, things are a bit more dramatic and less simply exuberant this time out. I have the previous two records, but rarely listen to them, as they lack this release's diversity and assertiveness. Sharp critics have noted the keen one-two punch of tracks three and four, "Black Leaf" and "Falls," which combine hallucinatory imagery, anti-drug sentiment, and a light hand at some deep vibe. Songs like these are easily TCS's most memorable recorded material.
The addition of overt gospel and more riff in the rock emerging definintely makes their third full-length the place to start if you've been holding off till now.