Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Round Up: Spowder, Jeff Caudill, Grey Goes Black, and The Duskwhales

Excuses, Excuses...


...I go through this from time to time. I'm not sure if it's boredom or burnout or laziness or something else. But I have these times when I'm not sure what I want this site to be, and I just get stuck. There's lots of great stuff floating around out there; and it comes across my virtual desk every, single day. Even with amazing contributions from Henry Lipput, Matt Chrystal, and others, this site is still very much me; and that's how I want it. Since it's just me, though, content is dependent on how busy or hectic things get at CDMHQ or even just on my mood, which can be... ...variable.

That's all to say that, for reasons I can't fully explain, I feel like I've been dropping the ball a bit in terms of coverage for the last little while. Yes, March and April were very busy with things like SXSW, the anniversary show, and Spring Break; but I think I should do better. So I'm going to work on some system of getting myself better organized so I don't get distracted and forget to tell you about so many things. In the meantime, here's a bunch of stuff that's worth at least a few moments of your time.

Spowder, Health Palm

OK. I'm kind of on the ball with this one, which the band released at a show just last night. As I said back when we premiered single "Miracle Grow" a few weeks ago, Spowder blew me away when they opened for Screaming Females back in February. Health Palm is the rare studio effort that manages to capture the energy of a band's live performance.

Dylan McCleary screams "P-p-p-p-p-Pulp!!" over chugging and angular rhythms on "Pulp." "The Man with Two Mouths" finds the band exploring more traditional, fast-paced garage punk; while things get slow and spacey with the title track. The one thing that comes through on Health Palm is that Spowder are a unique and interesting band who deserve an audience way beyond the basements of Central Jersey.

Health Palm is out now on Sniffling Indie Kids.

Jeff Caudill, Reset the Sun

Here's another one that was just released. Caudill is the former frontman of late-90s emo band, Gameface. Since that band went on indefinite hiatus in the mid-2000s, Caudill has fashioned himself into an Americana singer / songwriter.

Reset the Sun is a collection of six country-tinged songs that mix the feel of 70s AM radio with an occasionally heavy rock edge. Caudill's pristine vocals play off of some bluesy guitar on "Bruised Ribs, Broken Heart" to place the song somewhere between straight country and 90s alt rock. "Tears in My Ears" is a classic twangy, driving song: "Hands on the wheel like it's no big deal. Make my getaway." The title track is acoustic, allowing Caudill's vocal to take center stage.

Admittedly, Reset the Sun is a bit of a change from what we usually cover here; and it couldn't be more different from something like Health Palm. Once I spent some time with it, though, Caudill drew me in with both his songwriting and his voice.

Reset the Sun is out digitally now with a limited, vinyl Record Store Day release planned for tomorrow.

Grey Goes Black, And Inside There Was Only Water

I've told you about Grey Goes Black here a few times. The band's dark, electronic-infused indie rock is on full display on And Inside There Was Only Water, and it slots nicely into one of my many sub-wheelhouses.

The far-off dreaminess of "Please" gives some heft to Matt Casoni's, well, pleading. Similarly, a simple break-up song becomes something earth-shattering on the six-minute "Gone." "Helpless" ends things on a more hopeful note as Casoni talks someone back from the brink.

And Inside There Was Only Water marries 80s darkwave with 21st century indie rock. It's an engaging combination. The set is available now over at Grey Goes Black's Bandcamp page.

The Duskwhales, Sorrowful Mysteries

And here it is. The release that inspired this whole post. I got this album from Virginia's The Duskwhales maybe 3 weeks ago. I'd seen the band at The Saint several months back and was really taken by their approach to 60s-inspired pop. During about the fourth or fifth inning of the Yankee game (I'm back to watching baseball regularly, btw) the other night, I saw that The Duskwhales were in Asbury Park for a show that very evening and thought, "SHIT! I totally forgot about this one!"

That stunk because this album is flat-out great, and I would have loved to have encouraged you all to go to that show. Alas, we can't go back in time; but I can tell you that Sorrowful Mysteries is actually a joyfully beautiful pop record in the vein of something like Tommy James and the Shondells.

The various keyboard sounds and vocal harmonies on bouncing opener "Good Times" are infectious. "In The Year of Jubilee" is some amazing synthesis of Brian Wilson, George Harrison, and Split Enz. It was "Slow Down, Jerusalem" that had me making the Tommy James connection. And I actually hate when I spend all my time comparing a band to other bands, but The Duskwhales are obviously students of 60s pop and 80s new wave.

"Estranged Brother" is a great example of the way The Duskwhales take those sounds and twist and contort them into something of their own making. There's a complexity in the arrangement -- synths, piano, horns, percussion, and the vocals -- that puts the song somewhere way beyond simple pop.

Another example of the way the band combine a series of conventions into something unconventional is that only one of the 10 songs here is under four minutes long. The songs never drag, and they feel just as tight as any two-and-a-half minute pop song.

So, in an effort to correct my oversight, I'll tell you that Sorrowful Mysteries is available over at The Duskwhales' Bandcamp page and that The Duskwhales are at The Footlight Bar in kind of nearby Queens next Friday, 4/28, with Def.GRLS, The Big Drops, and Darkwing.

I guess I'll just go get a pen and paper and make a note of interesting stuff as it comes in. Then I'll just stick that on my monitor or something so that when I'm going down the rabbit hole of YouTube camera reviews, it will be right there in front of my face.


  1. Wow-great review of the Duskwhales new release. I definitely agree with your take on "Slow Down Jerusalem", but havin a hard time narrowing down to just one favorite, "whirl" or "good luck"? Glad you posted the album.

    1. Those are great, too. It's solid all the way through.