Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
We're being chased. We're always being chased by something spooky and blood-thirsty in the dark sunsets and drizzly twilights - with a film of thin white fog crusting up our visibility and giving everything that mood of waiting, of the touch-and-go. We're just sitting there with slit eyes, shifty eyes darting left and right, up and down in the threatening evening. It's a night encapsulated in this mute, foreboding inference that something's going to rattle our skins and make are nerves shake like dice. This is what the young Brooklyn band Cavalier Rose lay on us, through heaviness and lavish slabs of nervousness and quirky melodrama that plays just as well as revenge and bitterness. It's certainly not the band that's vulnerable, unsure of what's coming down the line. The four members are makers of whatever this sensation will breed, nodding assuredly as things play out, even if that's bedlam, even if that's an unspoken hostility - the build up of a night that didn't pan out. We're talking here about every emotion - all of them - simultaneously trying on the others' clothing and reacting as they think is appropriate, exhibiting a kind of unsure and scruffy darkness that comes sometimes in the midst of the heat of it all. Lead singer Heather Christian is something else. Her contributions to her band's songs are extraordinary and more than just the typical parts given by regular lead singers -- mortal lead singers. All of her words live in a way that can only be comparable to the belting and earnest howls of Jefferson Airplane's Grace Slick, as well as a sultry jazz singer trying to sing like the finest chardonnay and the most expensive cigars in the place. It's a combination of elements and palettes that is intoxicating and wonderfully unpredictable, with one moment feeling like spending time in a posh supper club, surrounded by millionaires and their spouses in expensive suits, ties, dresses and shoes, out on a Friday night with other millionaires and their spouses, spending hundreds of dollars on food and drink, and the next minute, there's a mash of strange bits that you might find on both Joanna Newsom's "The Milk-Eyed Mender" and Metallica's "Ride The Lightning." We hear her squinting out words and then making them into daggers, as if she's handing you little pieces of electric fencing, with you having no prior knowledge of what you may be taking into your clutches. It zings you and flips you and bugs your eyes out - your eyebrows and knuckle hair singe and it's all because you could look over at Christian and she'd have smoke coming from her ears, her throat lit up redder than a white-hot chunk of coal. Cavalier Rose make sounds that you must take loudly, ingest them as you would the roar of a thunderstorm pelting a roof and windows with a storm that is trying desperately to get into your house, to reach you and knock you out. The drumming that Sarah Tomek brings is pummeling, the guitar work that Garrett Gibbs Drinon adds is melting and flaming and Chase McGowan leads the chilling and monstrous party with a bass sound that is beastly and hungry. It's something new and something primal and Christian's words will work on you longer than you'd think they would, making you feel as if that electric yellow light -- that she sings about on one of these three new songs that the band wrote just days before the session taping -- might be effecting you. She seems to give us different meanings to her line, "Sing something sweet for me/I will comfort you if I'm able," as she knows full well that comfort, most of the time, isn't hers to give. Comfort is out of her hands so she offers these spells.
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