Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The people that populate the songs that the Brooklyn/Philadelphia band Cuddle Magic make are consistently attentive to their copious nuances. They are those folks who are knowingly absorbed by the most minute parts of themselves and with others. No detail is too small or unimportant. Everything is fodder for an idea that can just run as wild as it wants to go. Everything could be a hang-up or a collision. Everything could be the thread that begins the unraveling, or the thread that gets everything stitched back up, as nicely and neatly as it's ever going to get.
These are people who are beautifully flighty in thought sometimes. They are people who were told that they were pretty, but they just brushed it off without considering it, oblivious to the very idea, never having once thought about such meaningless thing. These are people who have let diamond rings slip like bananas out of their fingers, right into a crashing waterfall - the very action of which is a gorgeous piece of symbolism for something or nothing.
It's poetic, at the least, and it's those cute and randomly lovely details that are at the core of Cuddle Magic songwriting. "Friends Of The Mad River" is a song that exists as a kooky version of something that Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard was making with his All-Time Quarterback project back in the day, with hints of dinosaurs, phantom limbs, strange sounds and pretty harmonies that feel like the kindest of summer breezes.
It's aloof and poignant at the same time as singers Ben Davis, Alec Spiegelman, and Kristin Slipp find whimsical ways to deal with personal problems. On "Joanna," Spiegelman sings, "I promise I won't say a thing/To anyone/Mostly I'll just never talk to you again this way because/It's never the seduction/It's the cover-up that upends/Any chance we have to make tomorrow feel like yesterday/So Joanna, would you fan a fire for me/Would you be a liar for me?" It all sounds like a walk along the beach, skipping rocks, occasionally splashing the sweet person he's walking beside.
*Essay originally published June, 2012