Album reviews: Pickwick, The Cave Singers, and Caitlin Rose

Album reviews: Pickwick, The Cave Singers, and Caitlin Rose

Simply folk

Pickwick Can’t Talk Medicine/Self-released

Seattle used to be known for its grunge and alternative scene, but in recent years, it’s become synonymous with folk and Americana bands. Then there’s Pickwick. An intriguing oddity in that it doesn’t fall into any of these categories. This full-length debut is firmly entrenched in ethereal indie rock (“The Round”) with forays into the neo-soul genre (“Halls of Columbia,” “Hacienda Motel”). Making this album unique is the fact that none of the songs are autobiographical. Singer and principal songwriter Galen Disston has said the 13 tracks on this album were birthed from hearing stories that seemed completely original to him, and he wanted to take those starting points and explore them. Since the material is imagined in a sense, the dreamy quality of tracks like “Well, Well” are all the more affecting, while the wobbling, almost 1940s-
sounding keys and cut-and-paste sound bites on the abstract “Myths” make the track sound dreamy. Disston’s soulful vocals anchor the project and make you take notice of a fine debut.

The Cave Singers Naomi/Jagjaguwar Records

Naomi is the kind of album you’ll play on repeat many times over. The Cave Singers cover a broad range of subjects including God (“Canopy”), simple pleasures (“Karen’s Car”), and freeing yourself from worries (“Easy Way”). The funky Americana number “No Tomorrows” reminds listeners to make every day count, and on the groovy rock “Have to Pretend,” singer Pete Quirk channels a bit of Richard Ashcroft, vocally, as he sings to his lover.

Naomi successfully ventures into a number of musical and emotional territories. Quirk and his bandmates deftly play rock, Americana, folk, and funk throughout, with the skill of seasoned musicians. Even demonstrating an affinity for variety in the song “Northern Lights,” which begins as an acoustic ballad before blasting into a more epic rock song during the second half. There is a surprising amount of emotional and musical diversity on this record that you’ll want to experience over and over again.

Caitlin Rose The Stand-In/ATO Records

Caitlin Rose’s latest album is filled with a pleasant mix of country, folk, and pop and although it doesn’t offer a lot of variety, the album finds its wheelhouse and sticks to it. “No One to Call” is one of a handful of brokenhearted country pop songs found on the record, and the mid-tempo number “I Was Cruel” takes a slightly different tack as Rose learns about her own capacity to break hearts. “Waitin’” and “Old Numbers” carry an almost mournful ragtime dirge and “Dallas” is a true-blue country tune, right down to the whining, echoing guitars and dusty landscapes. Rose has solid vocals that remind you of a throatier Zooey Deschanel of She & Him—particularly on the album’s most upbeat pop number “Menagerie”—and she does enough with the solemn, relationship-centered material to keep you engaged. There’s nothing too flashy here, but simplicity is what gives the album its authenticity.

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