Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased tracks, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Kal” by Cardinal, from the 2012 album Hymns on Fire Records.
As you may recall, back in 1994, the band Cardinal released their ambitious self-titled debut album, ushering in a renewed appreciation for the orchestrated pop music of the 1960’s. The sound wasn’t exactly popular at the height of the grunge era, yet the duo of Californian multi-instrumentalist Eric Matthews and Australian singer/songwriter Richard Davies gave it their best and were met with critical acclaim. Many artists continue to cite their brilliance and list Cardinal as a major influences to their music — artists like Belle & Sebastian, The Flaming Lips, The Polyphonic Spree, and many others.
Following an 18 year hiatus of sorts, which included both Davies and Matthews pursuing solo careers (Eric Matthews even recorded on Seattle’s on Sub Pop!), the duo is finally back with their sophomore album, Hymns. Little has changed from their original material and luckily their once perfected world of classically inspired chamber pop takes right back off where they left it with our featured song, “Kal”. Hymns comprises ten new originals, providing the missing link in chamber pop history, and is a worthy follow up to their self-titled debut, a record lauded then, and now, as one of the most important albums of the 90s. The songs on the new Cardinal album are still a showcase to Davies’ songwriting ability, yet it seems despite all the years (and miles) between the two, this is a pair that truly loves to make music together.
Currently, Cardinal have only one performance on the books, an appearance at this year’s SXSW Music festival in Austin on March 15th. While Cardinal never was a touring band, hopefully as Davies and Matthews breathe new life into the band, they’ll also find a will to take Cardinal on the road. For now, your best bet is following the band through their label, Fire Records, and hoping you’ll get your chance. For more about Cardinal, check out their interview with Magnet Magazine, where they were guest editors.