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Music review of new album by Cave Babies

Accomplish Nothing by Cave Babies

I find myself again setting out on the pleasant task of reviewing the newest album release of one of my kids: This time it’s my son, the band called Cave Babies, and his new album Accomplish Nothing.

Cave Babies is comprised, in total, of a Man (my son) and his Ukulele. They happen to share a high degree of pluck. In the true spirit of DIY, both Man and Ukulele are refreshingly all natural and unembellished. The former wears a full beard; the latter has opted for a smoother look.

When I listen to the twelve songs on the album, it seems to me that they have the rare quality of melodies that had to be written. They are that poignant and inevitable. You see, this is a Man who is even more sensitive than the overstretched strings of his Ukulele. In fact, he’s a true romantic at heart.

The opening track of Accomplish Nothing shows exactly what I mean. “Bad News” is a song with a sweet and memorable melody, both verse and chorus, that is new and different to our ears. Yet there’s something about the tune that is so right that it feels as if it’s been inside of us forever and it only needed to be awakened somehow. Which Cave Babies has done. And done in good voice and adept ukulele strumming. From his meaningful lyrics we learn a lot about the self-doubts and relationships of this Man who awakens melodies. We see his serious side, but there is irony and humor in the way he looks inside himself. (Later on, there is even tongue-in-cheek satire – “Party Till I Bleed”, track 9.) The two succeeding tracks, “Backwards World” and “Sidewalk”, echo this comic but self-effacing blend of music and personal statement.

Cave Babies goes on to take us high and low, sometimes fast (“Move Me”, “Likeable”, “Killing Me Slowly”) and sometimes sadly slow (“Wasted”), on a musical and emotional journey. Loneliness, waste and regret are the predominant features of this stark landscape that passes us by. But there’s still something about the insightful voice and its ukulele sidekick that leaves us with a sense of resilience. It may be that I hear that quality because I know the Man from whom it springs. He does, in fact, give us a fleeting glimpse of this inner strength in “How Can I Be Sad at a Face Like That”, another perfect melody from somewhere deep down.

The climax of the album, perhaps, and the song that chills me most is “Getting Tired”, track 7, and you may want to be sure you read the lyrics on the Bandcamp page to understand the slow and beautiful melody. That sad tune may stay with you for awhile.

The ultimate irony is in Cave Babies’ finale: he humbly predicts it “Unlikely” that he will ever be happy or “be anything at all”. Clearly, his very words and music prove the opposite. In Accomplish Nothing, Cave Babies has accomplished something very special. My prediction is that many more deep melodies will be awakened by this Man’s rare gift of creation.

Listen here: http://cavebabies.bandcamp.com/
Buy the tape from http://lostsoundtapes.com/

Chuck Redman


Music review: Watercolor Paintings new album

[reprinted with permission from http://5432fun.tumblr.com/ ]

When You Move by Watercolor Paintings

The songs take turns sticking in my head for hours, sometimes even for days. They are more than welcome to stick there as long as they like – they are lovely. And of course I may always wonder whether deep down my brain may be predisposed toward these songs because I am Watercolor Paintings’ father, and am therefore hearing the voice and the words with a parent’s special connection. By the same token, as the father should I be disqualified from writing this brief review? Technically. . . maybe so. But let’s not quibble about technicalities.

The album is When You Move, and you will want to listen to every song, because there are quite a few different sounds within the scope of the album, including rock, pop, ballad, and even country. Some of the individual songs contain one or more dramatic changes in tempo and mood, with multiple melodies. This songwriting style is quite unique, and aesthetically intriguing.

Her lyrics ring out at the same compelling level as the music. Even standing alone, the words evoke deep and rich images. You will hear certain themes throughout the album – the sweet things and the hurtful things that love does to our hearts; how we cope with the lonely side of life; the cities, the rooms, the mornings and nights that touch us and leave their prints on our memories.

When you listen to track 3, “Birds’ Wings”, I suspect the perfect melodies and tempo changes will move you as they do me. I would echo that very prediction for “Livid Being”, the next track. These are songs that are over much too soon. Truly beautiful tunes always are.

Track 5 is “Red Scarf”, which has always been, since the first time I heard it, one of my favorite Watercolorpaintings songs. It exudes power: positive power, the kind that makes us stronger in the face of challenges, temptations, negative influences. The words are worth heeding; the melody (again very intricate and multiphased) worth remembering.

When you reach “Showers of Stones”, track 7, you encounter quite a radical mood shift. Its stark rock/metal sound will transmit images of isolation and unreality, and will “move” you to a dark dystopian place. Were it not for the succeeding tracks on the album, you might not so easily shake this ominous musical climate.

You will find “So Dark” (track 9) melodically sticking in our collective heads, and there’s so much hurt in that young voice (a voice I know so well) that our collective hearts can’t help but “keep breaking over and over”. The very next track, “Yr Hands”, is another “heartbreak of a song”. It features several tempo and tune changes, all soul-stirring, especially the opening bars and the way they clutch the inside of my throat. The final track is called “Landslide”, which is a little bit country and a whole lot lovely. You start out at a slow clip-clop, move up to a lilting canter, and finally sail through the air on a current of strength and individuality. Quite a poignant ending to a very special album.

And because I really don’t know whether these twelve songs move me as a father and not as an objective listener, I must let you listen for yourself. I do know that the more I listen, the more I am transported to harmonious places: places that are vivid and real, and are stuck in my head for good.


Listen here: http://watercolorpaintings.bandcamp.com/album/when-you-move
Buy the LP from Plan-It-X Records (the official one)
or the tape from Lost Sound Tapes


Chuck Redman