Through the last handful of years, Seattle band The Cave Singers has been running on a slow but steady boil, increasing intensity with every release. Their latest album, No Witch, takes that boil to a scalding fury. With a recent switch from the notable Matador Records to the well-endowed Jagjaguwar, the Rain City trio has risen above the former outfits of members’ past (Pretty Girls Make Graves, Murder City Devils, Hint Hint, Cobra High), creating a potpourri of sounds, from chilled out dreary-day soundtracks, to Eastern European aural adventures.
The stand-out, revved up “Black Leaf” finds the band somewhere between Violent Femmes and Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy,” which kinda leaves you wondering what alternate direction this crispy clean album might’ve taken with Malcom McClaren at the helm. The band makes hints at a new lust for a heavier sound, but doesn’t really commit or attempt the crossover. The hesitance -- perhaps even sheepishness -- is admirable, as is their expansion in sound, such as the Indian-influenced “Outer Realms” in the vain of later, George Harrison-centric Beatles tracks. The Cave Singers might not be mainstreaming a religion or culture, but they are traveling upwards and outwards to larger audiences who are more than willing to soak in their soggy Northwest tunes.
As a whole, No Witch is an evenly keeled, modest release. The understated skill and arrangements might even go unappreciated or unnoticed by the lazy listener, but with time it grows on you faster than moss envelops anything stagnant during the wet winter days in Washington. Grab a big cup of tea, some oversized headphones, and curl up in front of the fire to this one. It’s got Seattle-toned overtures throughout its ups and downs that almost, almost makes you appreciate those eight months of gray skies.
The Cave Singers celebrate their album release this week with two performances: the first being tomorrow, Monday, February 21, live on KEXP at 12PM. Then they’ll be at Easy Street Records’ Queen Anne store on Tuesday, February 22, at 7PM. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until late April to seem them again in Seattle. Check their website for more info.