[sic] Magazine

The Cave Singers – No Witch

Thanks to acts like The Low Anthem , high profile alt-country still moves. Before them, Band Of Horses and Fleet Foxes flew the alt-folk flag to huge commercial success, and in the small cracks between these genre titans inhabit solid bands such as The Cave Singers .

Their debut was arguably inconsistent, but nevertheless largely likeable, pastoral Americana. In turn, it was succeeded by the aptly-titled Welcome Joy, an album that, with electrified picking such as that found on “Leap”, very much now seems a stepping stone to this the band’s third, and first for Jagjaguwar .

For, No Witch appears to be The Cave Singers going rock. Despite this claim, there are few vast departures from the band’s trademark sound. These days however, Pete Quirk is without question smoother in his vocal delivery – his hootin’ and hollerin’ reigned in in favour of much more patient song-craft, which suggests at the mature, blues-y R&B that Delta Spirit have been making their own of late. Evidence, if it’s needed, comes in the form of the Stonesian strut “Clever Creatures”.

This fullness and richness of sound translates all the same within The Cave Singers’ traditional realm. Their frequent finger-plucking confirms it, yet now there are no concessions to washboard percussion and the like. In their place, we find a rarefied electric stomp, as well as quick-paced blues rhythms that entwine with tambourine claps, as can be heard on the early highlight “Black Leaf”. It also becomes clear that the band have done some research on their adopted moniker, plundering cave-like echo for the thunderous extract “Faze Wave” – the resultant cocktail of darkness and danger proving an exciting one.

As a result, this all places No Witch in early- Black Keys country, something in which the album closer “No Prosecution If We Bail” revels. Its fizzy rock rhythms marry Quirk’s most lascivious holler, akin in its gruffness to that found on the winning eels album Hombre Lobo. More surprising are the gospel flourishes that blossom within the backing vocals of the harmonica-heavy, yet strikingly soulful “Haystacks”, as well as on the Hammond-led bar-room bruiser “Falls”.

But No Witch is not all beef. The summery construct of “Haller Lake” is warmly familiar in contrast. Equally, “All Land Crabs And Divinity Ghosts” recalls current genre champion The Tallest Man On Earth , running with the plugged- in sound that the vertically endowed Kristian Matsson experimented with on his most recent EP Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird. It’s a sound undoubtedly worth repeating, and the longingly beautiful “Distant Sures” dutifully makes sure to reprise it.

So, while No Witch is unlikely to set the world alight in terms of originality, the posts to which it stakes itself have been burning brightly for decades and they’re unlikely to extinguish any time soon with quality fuel such as this kicking up the flames.

Advised downloads: “Black Leaf” and “Faze Wave”.

~No Witch is out now on Jagjaguwar .~