Album Review: The Cave Singers – No Witch

Label: Jagjaguwar
Format: CD/LP
Release Date: February 22

The latest album by Seattle’s the Cave Singers may strike you at first as a nice, friendly folk-rock album, but hang on- because it really ain’t quite so friendly when you really get to know it.
No Witch combines roots-rock, swampy blues, dark gospel and a little bluegrass all made tough (if not brutal) by evil genius Randall Dunn, a man who has produced the heaviest of the heavies (Earth, Sunn O))), Boris, etc.) and now seems to be trying his hand on bands with broader appeal that cross-over with the heavy stuff (e.g. Black Mountain). To borrow an immortal line from Ricky Bobby, the man pisses excellence, and his work on this album is proof of the scope of his talent. The murkiness of No Witch is an extension of the gloomy wilderness of the Northwest, but with the faintest polish of sophistication. This album is definitely in league with some of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s darker stuff. There are hints of early Ryan Adams, John Mellencamp and perhaps a touch of Springstein in Pete Quirk’s raspy vocals and Derek Fudesco’s strings do it all from Eastern scales to juke joint blues.
One of the most striking tracks on the record, ‘Outer Realms,’ tarries in the realm where east meets west, the way middle eastern and Western (as in Wild Western) music somehow evoke similar images of wastelands and outlaws. In this song, however, the two are blended into something more cosmic, independent of space and time.
I personally have no complaints with the direction Jagjaguwar seems to be going by focusing on the heavier, yet still very musical side of what can no longer be simply classified as indie rock. If you missed them like I did in December when they opened for Cold War Kids at Freebird Live, you can join me in hoping they return one day soon.
No Witch may very well have the power to bring together mountain-dwelling hippies and outlaw bikers for as long as the 13 tracks last or until the drugs wear off, whichever comes first. –