11 Songs, 39 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Rising from the ashes of the atmospheric pop of Pretty Girls Make Graves, garage-rockers Murder City Devils, and the gloomy Hint Hint, Seattle’s Cave Singers somehow ended up with a neu-folk (or neo-folk?) sound, much in the vein of Iron and Wine or Great Lake Swimmers. The trio isn’t afraid to do a little American roots deconstruction, and the results are impressive: they build interesting songs using Spartan instrumentation and unique arrangements, letting each (mostly) acoustic instrument speak for itself. Vocalist Pete Quirk finds a gentler side to the sneery vocals he used in Hint Hint, expressing himself with more of a nasal, hillbilly purr, which works to great effect on delicate songs such as “Helen,” “Elephant Clouds” and “Seeds of Night,” with their gentle, brushed toms, lacy, finger-picked guitar work, and lonely kick drums. “Cold Eye” plays like a lullaby; absent any percussion, the song floats along on Quirk’s withered vocal with minimal guitar and the occasional sparkle of a tambourine.  While there is plenty to admire here, the single “Dancing on Our Graves” — a spare, stomping, washboard-accented number that evokes the darker side of fervent spiritual exhortation — is astoundingly habit-forming. Invitation Songs is quietly powerful, and quite remarkable.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Rising from the ashes of the atmospheric pop of Pretty Girls Make Graves, garage-rockers Murder City Devils, and the gloomy Hint Hint, Seattle’s Cave Singers somehow ended up with a neu-folk (or neo-folk?) sound, much in the vein of Iron and Wine or Great Lake Swimmers. The trio isn’t afraid to do a little American roots deconstruction, and the results are impressive: they build interesting songs using Spartan instrumentation and unique arrangements, letting each (mostly) acoustic instrument speak for itself. Vocalist Pete Quirk finds a gentler side to the sneery vocals he used in Hint Hint, expressing himself with more of a nasal, hillbilly purr, which works to great effect on delicate songs such as “Helen,” “Elephant Clouds” and “Seeds of Night,” with their gentle, brushed toms, lacy, finger-picked guitar work, and lonely kick drums. “Cold Eye” plays like a lullaby; absent any percussion, the song floats along on Quirk’s withered vocal with minimal guitar and the occasional sparkle of a tambourine.  While there is plenty to admire here, the single “Dancing on Our Graves” — a spare, stomping, washboard-accented number that evokes the darker side of fervent spiritual exhortation — is astoundingly habit-forming. Invitation Songs is quietly powerful, and quite remarkable.

TITLE TIME
4:59
3:48
3:24
3:26
3:07
4:01
3:51
3:53
3:36
3:37
1:58

About The Cave Singers

Given the rising popularity of meditative, folky indie acts in the early 2000s, forming a twangy, rootsy folk trio was probably the least surprising move Derek Fudesco could have made. The former bassist and founding member of the successful indie rock group Pretty Girls Make Graves picked up an acoustic guitar and formed the Cave Singers following PGMG's demise in January 2007, teaming up with vocalist Pete Quirk (formerly of Hint Hint) and drummer Marty Lund (formerly of Cobra High). Though not an "official" member, ex-PGMGer Andrea Zollo made an appearance on the group's first album as a vocalist and washboard player. Drawing from canonical folkies like Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, and sounding more than a little like other early-2000s acts like Lightning Dust, the Snake the Cross the Crown, and Samamidon, the group had its first album, Invitation Songs, recorded and ready to go (thanks in large part to Black Mountain producer Colin Stewart) within months of PGMG's breakup. Matador picked up the trio soon after, and following a few delays Invitation Songs was slated for release in late September. The band continued on a similar path for 2008's Welcome Joy, but worked with producer Randall Dunn -- who also made albums with Sunn 0))) and Boris -- on 2011's eclectic No Witch. Following that record the band was joined by former Blood Brothers bassist Morgan Henderson, who was also doing time as bassist in Fleet Foxes. The expanded group spent 2012 working on its summery fourth album, Naomi, which was released on Jagjaguar in early 2013. In 2015, the Cave Singers began work on their fifth album, and rather than working with a record company, they opted to coordinate the project themselves and financed the recording through a crowdfunding campaign. The campaign raised 116 percent of the group's goal, and the album, Banshee, was released in February 2016. ~ Margaret Reges

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