Release Date: Aug 18, 2009
Record label: Matador
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Folk
I first heard the Cave Singers in Neumo’s, a small, sweaty bar in Seattle. The in-house DJ was spinning in anticipation of a gut-busting rock ‘n’ roll powerhouse out of Detroit. As the crowd continued to grow, the DJ kept the blood flowing with some pretty meaty selections. Then, as if in one of those grand, Hollywood moments of clarity, he introduced me to the Cave Singers.
With a warmer style than the name Cave Singers might suggest, Welcome Joy is a simple and easygoing indie folk romp that picks up right where the trio's debut, Invitation Songs, left off. Welcome Joy was recorded again with Black Mountain's Colin Stewart in Vancouver, and his pals Amber Webber (of Black Mountain and Lightning Dust) and Ashley Webber (also of Lightning Dust) assisted Derek Fudesco, Marty Lund, and Pete Quirk on the record. It's an Americana-rooted soundtrack for the change of the seasons, with two-chord structures and organic, free-spirited instrumentation.
The cheerless second album from Seattle's Cave Singers would fit snugly between ones by Pink Mountaintops, Lightning Dust, Ladyhawk and those other Vancouver indie folk bands often recorded in warm, hazy, psychedelic ways by Hive Studios' Colin Stewart. Stewart was on board for this one, too, as he was for albums by Pretty Girls Make Graves, Cave guitarist Derek Fudesco's old band. [rssbreak] The sparse songs are free of drums, bass, riffs and obvious choruses, and are often pushed along by just two, sometimes three, chords.
The Cave Singers' 2007 debut, Invitation Songs, was an understated bit of smoky, nu-folk. Vocalist Pete Quirk's time in the punk outfit Hint Hint, and bassist Derek Fudesco's sustained role in Murder City Devils and Pretty Girls Make Graves lent the Seattle threesome press leverage, even if the sleepy campfire tunes didn't always stand up to the challenge. The group's heavy-lidded return with follow-up Welcome Joy sees them sticking to their guns but trading in Invitation's slower model for a slightly charged one.
If you still think of the Cave Singers as a side project, a spinoff, a lark dreamed up by a few ex-punks with big back porches, I say go with it; two albums in, you've almost got to wonder if that's not how the Cave Singers still see themselves. Derek Fudesco, late of much missed incandescent emoters Pretty Girls Make Graves, and a crew of fellow Pac Northwest facial hair enthusiasts got together a couple years back to make an EP and then later an LP, 2007's Invitation Songs, of ultracasual folk, floaty and freewheeling but tossed off and only fleetingly memorable. Given Fudesco's hyperkinetic pop pedigree, this new thing seemed an oddly easygoing showcase for his formidable chops, like one of those dreadful early-90s Jerry Garcia/David Grisman albums that announced on the cover they were recorded over a weekend.
Dear Cave Singers, I've got to be honest with you. The thing we had last summer, it was great. It opened my eyes to a lot of things, and honestly, I'm grateful for the time we spent together. Do you remember those times when I put 'Helen' on every compilation that I made last year, because everything about it was so perfect? You were in my head from June to the end of August.
Strange things are happening in Pacific Northwest. No, it’s not the bulbous, floundering whales, nor is it the absurd, so-tall-it’s-not-even-cool-anymore trees. And it has nothing to do with Starbucks. But we’re getting warmer. Haha, that was almost a pun. But I digress. Today’s story is ….
On this Seattle trio's 2007 debut, Invitation Songs, there were no hints of its Northwestern punk history, just damp, pleasing, porch-folk songs that grow as naturally as medicinal marijuana. On its second LP, the group doesn't really try to get up from that porch. Guitarist Derek Fudesco, formerly of Pretty Girls Make Graves, picks his strings carefully, and the addition of vocals by Amber Webber of Black Mountain and Lightning Dust on "Summer Light" give Welcome Joy some levity, since Peter Quirk's ragged vocals become tedious if you're not a fan.