Release Date: Feb 22, 2011
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Folk, Folk-Rock, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Neo-Traditional Folk, Psychedelic/Garage
On their third album, The Cave Singers debut a new sound on a new label. Gone is the minimalism that previously defined the band and in is a new edge. Like their Seattle forefathers, the trio’s bigger sound is a mix of delta blues, indie rock and Eastern mysticism. With producer Randall Dunn at the helm, the band embraces the new direction and the result reflects it.
After two albums of perfecting their backwoods acoustic charm, the Cave Singers go electric and eclectic on No Witch. The band enlisted producer Randall Dunn -- best known for working with Boris, Sunn 0))), and Black Mountain -- to help with the transformation, and it’s a stunning one. The change might not be as shocking as, say, when Bob Dylan went electric, but it’s still something of a shock to hear the pastoral sound of the Cave Singers' past chopped down by plugged-in axes.
Seattle, as much as any city, has benefited in the past few years from a renewed interest in all things folky and pastoral. Shaggy folk traditionalists Fleet Foxes are the city's most successful band of the moment, and Sub Pop is hoping to replicate that success with the more charismatic but also more conventional young outfit the Head and the Heart. Swing a banjo in that town, and you're likely to hit any number of other equally rootsy bands.
At last, a record that takes on the nebulous new genre of witch house. In No Witch, The Cave Singers declare they just can't take it anymore – it's too damn grim. Okay, that's not true. I don't know their feelings on cacklecore, or whatever it's called now, but The Cave Singers do dwell on the brighter side of paganism.
Right off the bat, the title of the new Cave Singers’ album surely marks a change. Following the inclusive, feel-good titles of Invitation Songs and Welcome Joy, we get No Witch—a denial, an isolation, a rigid setting oneself apart either from darkness or towards it. No matter how it isolates, there’s an edge to that title the others lack, and that edge comes across in the songs themselves, adding a sweating vitality to their spare folk sound.
Steel strings slick with gumbo grease and sweet gospel inflections. Chris Parkin 2011 The sound of backwoods USA has been sorely misrepresented since the Followill brothers started scratching their crotches and complaining their sex was on fire. Rural America should, as anyone fool knows, sound weird; music that channels this world’s spooky, still-primitive, pastoral spirit.
Huddling together former members of the erstwhile Pretty Girls Make Graves, Seattle's Cave Singers have fashioned a deeply masculine disc in No Witch, the trio's third LP and first for Jagjaguwar. "Gifts and the Raft" and its successor "Swim Club" push off from terra firma with acoustic guitars and stripped-down harmonies, with singer Pete Quirk and comrades then veering into murky blues-rock with "Black Leaf" and "Falls." Camping with the Cave Singers calls for no small amount of bromance before heading to the Orient with "Outer Realms." Clang-banging closer "No Prosecution If We Bail" slams the gas on the party bus and thus into whiplash, but such is No Witch. (Wed., 11:35pm, Red 7 Patio) .