Bummer Palace CD - Trust Tapes

Chicago foursome Caw! Caw! is not an Eagles or Byrds covers outfit. They do not play folk rock or country rock. The decade-old band is genre-less, or specifically not constrained by genres. The teenage friends - Tim Tsurutani (vocals, guitar), Evan Burrows (drums), Steve Kozak (guitar, keys), and Dan Rico (bass) - started as punkers, then tried experimental pop, and now leap past established boundaries. And yet Caw! Caw!'s full-length debut, Bummer Palace (which proceeds 2008 EP Wait Outside), has a nervously affecting cohesion: somehow post rock, dreamy indie rock, peppy punk, punked out neo-prog, and other elements have a fatalistic unity.

Part of the group's ability to keep sporadically shifting pieces knit together comes from unpretentious naivety: Caw! Caw! does not seem to know that so many musical possibilities should not intermingle. Another coalescing building block is Tsurutani's foreboding lyrical details, which provide an integrated reticence. On tunes like album opener, "Toothless" (which is akin to Pavement meets Bloc Party), Tsurutani sings of recriminations thrown against others: "I must prove I love to hate / with an axe in hand / I wait for people / kissing on the street." Mortality or retribution linger in his fast-spewed lines, which give songs such as art-punkified "Sons of Sons of Saviors" and "Vacuole" (which sounds like The French Kicks on a math rock diet) a pointed pessimism.

By Doug Simpson



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