Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s selection, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, comes from Massachusetts band Caspian. “Hickory ’54” is an epic cut from the 2012 album Waking Season on Triple Crown.
Caspian had an awesome 2012. While they may not be a household post-rock name yet (unfortunately, only Explosions in the Sky, the Album Leaf, and Sigur Ros have really jumped that hurdle), SPIN called Waking Season the post-rock album of the year, and it received near-universal acclaim all other places. They have a powerful mixture of sounds and techniques that set them apart from other members of the genre. As a foundation, they experiment with east coast folk and Americana, soundtracking the backwoods of Massachusetts with gorgeous layering and clever mixture of noise and harmony. But as the complexity increases, they touch on math rock and experimental prog rock, never reaching the bombast of Explosions in the Sky (which are, to be honest, a bit too much for this writer) and never reaching flatline on the other side of the spectrum. Caspian keep things dreadfully interesting and manage to keep the listener engaged and constantly feeling something new.
“Hickory ’54” is one of most emotionally charged tracks on Waking Season. Building from a simple stomp and clap at the beginning, the instrumental song explodes into a fury of guitar and drum beyond the reach of words. It’s incredible what emotion and character Caspian conjure up on this track. Images of nature and history and relationship all flash like a photo album slideshow, while the track, bursting at the seams, fills in all of the cracks. It’s hard to say what one mental picture comes to mind when listening to “Hickory ’54” – so much of it is up to interpretation and truly up to the listener. But in that, Caspian gives us a unique gift. Their music can be appreciated and understood in such a wide array of mediums. “Hickory ’54” is just one of the many songs on Waking Season that will take you completely away.
Waking Season is out now! Listen to the whole album over at the Caspian website, or grab it at your local record store. Caspian will be playing in Seattle at Barboza on March 5 along with Native. It will be a totally awesome live show, so don’t miss it!