Cave Women – S/T (Independent)
With a name that suggests garage rock played with puckish, punkish abandon, Cave Women’s debut album provides wholly unexpected pleasures. The five women from Sacramento, Casey Lipka (bass, vocals), Alicyn Yaffee (guitar, vocals), Emily Messick (vocals, melodica, accordion, guitar), Kim Davis (vocals, flute, sax) and Vanessa Cruz (drums), reject guitar thrash and throttled vocals and instead head straight for the jazz-folk jugular. Four-part harmonies vie with world rhythms and a variety of non-rock instrumentation, and they consistently remember to pack tunes and hooks.
All five members carry impressive musical CVs, and there’s a wealth of experience between them. It’s perhaps surprising then that the presentation isn’t quite as showy as expected. There are solos, and some of the playing is inspired – the interaction between flute and guitar on “Fall” impresses more each time I hear it – but the song and vocals invariably take centre stage. Other highlights are plentiful; “Blizzard” loops and cajoles, and concludes with a sublime guitar solo, and “Balloons”, with its mix of time signatures and jerked rhythms contains almost an album’s worth of ideas on its own.