The Cave Singers
Seattle may be renowned for its lank-haired, flannel shirted rock of the early 1990s but there's something more roots-based, and dare I say it, substantial floating through the eerie Washington air these days.
Although strictly off folk's beaten track and not really deep in the South enough to be considered country, recently formed three-piece The Cave Singers peddle a style of music that embraces both genres with open arms, whilst not entirely afraid of offering an experimental, neo-psychedelic edge akin to The Flying Burrito Brothers and more recently Akron/Family in places.
One of the reasons for their unorthodox approach undoubtedly comes from the make-up of the band itself, as each member has held down previous day jobs in assortment of bands great, big and small. From vocalist Pete Quirk and drummer Marty Lund's background in the local post-punk scene to guitarist Derek Fudesco's more high profile past as bass player with both Pretty Girls Make Graves and the Murder City Devils, they've obviously picked up enough ideas and influences along the way to concoct their own style and sound.
And 'Invitation Songs' is exactly that. Opener 'Seeds Of Night' has a touch of Canyon's desolate opulence about it, Quirk's understated drawl slowly punctuating the lilting groove of Fudesco, occasionally being undercut by the sublime timekeeping of sticksman Lund. Likewise the mysterious 'Called', a haunting ballad that brings the album to a close yet is possibly the most addictive moment on the record. "Your body's broken, while mine's on the sleeve" opines Quirk in the most wistful tone, undoubtedly stating a case for redemption from something in this or a past life. It's a truly mesmerising three and a half minutes that pretty much sums up the flavour of 'Invitation Songs'.
Elsewhere, 'Helen' could be Gram Parsons fronting Spiritualized were he still alive, while 'Dancing On Our Graves', for all the faux-miserable sentiment in its title, is actually the most upbeat moment on the record, Quirk closing this American Civil War-inspired paean to the object of his affection with a subtle "Hold me baby, cos your eyes are the prettiest eyes I've ever seen in my life."
As alt-country records go; and to be fair it has become a much wider genre than was originally intended; 'Invitation Songs' is both ambitious and infectious and will undoubtedly provide a gateway to wider recognition in both a critical and (hopefully) commercial sense for its creators.