The Cave Singers: Invitation Songs (Matador)

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The Cave Singers: Elephant Clouds
The Cave Singers: Invitation Songs (Matador)

Singers don't come with a more appropriate surname than Peter Quirk of Seattle's Cave Singers -- his vocals are indeed quirky. He delivers with nail-hard and assertive confidence, doesn't seem to have much of a range and there is a constant shudder to his sound.

Yet in these 10 originals by this three-piece his declamatory style rides over the simple and sometimes primitive rhythms (primitive in a good way) with such stark originality that it becomes quite compelling.

Their record label speaks of his "appealingly nasal voice [which] simultaneously echoes Arlo Guthrie and a mosquito's buzz" -- which is pretty accurate. Although I'd add in some suggestions of Paul Westerberg into the mix too.

The Cave Singers aren't an easy option and only in a few places do they conform to the "folk" label that they have been given. But there is something almost ancient-sounding here and in places it harks back to that "old weird American" which Harry Smith documented.

With finger-picked guitar and simple percussion (plus the odd hamronica and lonely trumpet), this low-key and earthy recording captures them much as you might find them in a living room or old barn. It has a raw but right ambience.

And Quirk's vocals will doubtless get you after a couple of listens.

But it may take a couple.

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