Sunday, June 27, 2010

a classic, top-down, hair-blowing-in-the-wind road trip rock song!

Transient Songs
Cave Syndrome
Indian Casino; 2010

In my review of Plantation To Your Youth back in 2008, I wrote that, despite the band’s predilection for quality psychedelic Southern rock, the overall approach was a bit too fractured for me, which meant that there wasn’t much that stayed with me when the EP concluded. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I cracked open a preview copy of Cave Syndrome to hear that the group (now simply John Frum with some occasional collaborators) had retained its affection for The Byrds, Gram Parsons, and The Allman Brothers, while bringing in quite welcome spaghetti western tones and twinges of The Flaming Lips’ brand of psych-rock. The result is a more coherent full-length record that is decidedly more grown-up and structured.

Frum starts off the album with “In This Darkness Light Seeps Through” and “Smoking Slows The Healing,” two robust rock tunes that serve as a solid introduction to the record’s direction. With “Wide Open Skies” and “Golden Gardens,” we hear mournful, folky ballads that bespeak of long and lonely nighttime drives down dusty highways in the backcountry. It doesn’t hurt that there is some supple slide guitar and violin work on display casting a ghostly, ethereal mood across songs like “The Cancer In Our Bloodlines” and “A Burrow Patch.”

The only time that the record loses a bit of focus is with “Greenwoods Backyards” and “Astoria,” which are brief, under-two-minute attempts to slow down and/or shift the tone of the record. While I understand what Frum is trying to accomplish in those instances, they really just confused me and caused me to lose track of where the music was heading next.

In spite of those awkward transitions, I think that Transient Songs has crafted a good from-dusk-to-dawn record in Cave Syndrome, one inspired by both the American troubadour tradition and the classic American need to let off steam with a long, meditative drive. Just listen to the standout track “Sin Through The Summer” and tell me you don’t hear a classic, top-down, hair-blowing-in-the-wind road trip rock song.

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