I'll admit that I knew nothing about The Cave Singers when I came across an opportunity to listen to their new release, No Witch, on the indie label Jagjaguwar. It was so instantly arresting that I've been listening to it ever since -- an earthy, dark, blend of folk-rock and mesmerizing vocals. Fortunately, you can see The Cave Singers live this Saturday at Zanzabar, along with Brooklyn singer Lia Ices.
This Seattle-based trio creates its own brand of trippy, woodsy folk with influences of blues and punk. They are one of those rare bands who actually don't sound much like anyone else, which is probably what makes them so much fun to listen to. The opening song, "Gifts and the Raft," seems like it could just as easily have risen out of the misted hills and hollers of eastern Kentucky as the damp forests of the Northwest coast with an intro of vocal harmonies reminiscent of old-timey, shaped-note singing. Lead singer Pete Quirk has a Jim-Jamesesque beard and a rough, warbly voice that slips and slides between the assured finger-picking of Derek Fudesco on guitar and the pleasantly primitive rhythms of drummer Marty Lund.
Each song has a very distinct sonic stamp without sounding at all forced or inauthentic. The eastern-mysticism-influenced "Outer Realms" features cymbals and a sitar-mimicking guitar line -- it made me think of some of George Harrison's forays into Indian music. They can then turn right around and produce a song with the punk attitude of "Black Leaf" or the lush beauty of "Distant Sures." Check out some of their Youtube videos (a couple are below) to get an idea of their originality.
From the new album, "Clever Creatures":