"Free At Dawn"
Limits of Desire, 2013
Was fortunate enough to realize - just in time - that last night’s $5 show at Ovvio Arte was Small Black Small Black, the Brooklyn band that released their dreamy debut New Chain in 2010. They have a new album on the way in May, and based on what I heard last night, it may end up being one of my favorites this year. Check them out live if they come to your neck of the woods - they’re great performers and even nicer guys.
These guys are from Nashville? Pretty into this. They’re playing with St. Lucia and Haerts at the High Watt on Monday, and I will definitely be in attendance.
Love love love Thea’s track this week.
“Dreams Are Gone”
Kloaks are frustratingly mysterious. This is the only song they’ve released that I’ve found (aside from a mix tape) and it’s already around two years old. Kloaks is two guys from New York and that’s about all I know. They’ve got a Facebook page they seldom update. Holding out for another song by them feels like waiting for a phone call from someone you like, but instead of waiting a few days, you wait six months. It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.
“Dreams Are Gone” is eerie and gorgeous, straddling that odd line between being uplifting and saddening. It melds witch house, shoegaze, and dark wave into a song that feels sexy, yet sorrowful.
This track is still available as a free download on their Bandcamp page, and this and the mix tape are on their Soundcloud.
I’ve known this girl for six years and she still knocked my socks off with this one. Come see her album release show tomorrow night at Mercy Lounge.
The Stand-In, 2013
I happened to catch an episode of Bones earlier this week (a show I don’t really watch, but procedural dramas are pretty swell non-committal television, so if the TV’s on - that’s usually what I’m watching). Anyway, it seems that two of the characters are a thing now, and they shared this sweetly romantic little exchange about their relationship toward the beginning of the episode:Her: “You were expecting this, right?”
Him: “You can expect something, and still be knocked off your feet when it happens.”
Today, I realized that’s exactly how I feel about Caitlin Rose’s new album, The Stand-In.
I’ve known Caitlin since 2007, when she was a nineteen year old performing at Next Big Nashville under the name Save Macaulay. Equal parts bashful and mouthy behind a microphone, she had a big voice, a knack for disarming stage banter, and the kind of je ne sais quoi that always makes an appearance at the beginning of an hour-long TV biography show. I interviewed her for my blog back then, and she told me she broke her arm in a fouled up double-jump trampoline accident a couple weeks into guitar lessons in the second grade, then she “picked it back up my sophomore year of high school so I could write songs about boys or something.”
And for the past six years, I’ve been listening to those songs about boys or something. At smoky dive bars and dirty clubs, under strands of christmas lights in random Nashville backyards, on stage opening for acts that were wowed enough to invite her up to share a microphone during their own sets. Once or twice, I even got to sit in her bedroom and hear one of those songs the day it was written, because I already knew the story about the boy or something too.
But you don’t have to have known Caitlin for the past six years to have been expecting something as stellar as The Stand-In. Anyone who has heard her sing anything, anywhere knew she had this album in her - all she needed was a few years to let potential turn into perfection, and the right group of people to make the album of our dreams. I’m proud to say I know more than a few of those people, and I’m even prouder to say this exactly the kind of album that makes me happy to say that Nashville’s my home.
Someday, I’m going to be able to wow my kids by saying, “you know what? I used to get silly drunk with that girl. She even dressed up like Gwen Stefani and sang ‘Spiderwebs’ at my birthday party once.” And my kids will say “seriously mom? You knew Caitlin Rose? And who the hell is Gwen Stefani?”
New tune from my favorite local band, via Rolling Stone. Can’t wait for more newness.
As an added bonus to the track I shared on Stacks today, here’s either the b-side to “Howling” or the other song on the EP - not sure what to call it.
Cuming’s vocals over the bleached bones of a sparsely played piano cast a James Blake-ish shadow across this one; and those little gusts of wind at 1:18 and 1:50 make my insides wobble.
This is a headphones song. This is the kind of minimalism that I love. Not a single extraneous sound, everything calculated to the perfect degree of just enough - and absolutely no more.
If I turned this song into a paper for my journalism professor in college, he would have let me graduate early.
I know I already shared this song, but this is what I had to say about it today on Stacks.
Frank Wiedemann and Ry Cuming
“Howling (Original Mix)”
This song has been floating in and out of my head like a dream over the course of the last week or so, and I couldn’t pick something that more perfectly suits my gorgeous mood today.
Frank Wiedemann is one half of Âme, a German electronic duo that makes Detroit-influenced deep house inspired by soul music (they run a Berlin-based record label named after Stevie Wonder’s 1973 masterpiece Innervisions). Âme’s music makes me want to explore subterranean tunnels beneath some over-industrialized city of the future.
Ry Cuming is an Australian born, LA-based singer songwriter who released his self-titled debut in 2010 on Jive Records, also home to acts like Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears. Cuming’s artificial vanilla-flavored tv-ready pop makes me suck air through my teeth and think “ehh. nope.” after only a few seconds.
But “Howling” coaxes a magical performance out of Cuming, for the first track of Wiedemann’s new solo project. It’s acoustic guitar in a bedroom closet at first; so quiet you hear fingers sliding across the strings. That sound is a grating squeak in certain contexts, but applied correctly it’s like the intimate, ticklish thrill of a lover’s fingers grazing the inside of your wrist as they reach to take your hand. Then Cuming’s yearning tenor - nowhere near the artificially inflated American Idol earnestness found on his own album, but something small and close and hesitant. A patient, simple kick drum marks the introduction of precisely layered percussion, as Weidemann builds walls and a floor around Cuming’s quiet little bedroom closet. Then he adds another floor, and then another, and another and another until before you know it that bedroom closet door opens up into the clouds.