Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
It's just a shame that the lonely land is such a fertile place. It's a crying shame that it's somewhere that brings such fantastic insight and spectacular art - oddly enough, it brings the kind of art and the sorts of words that have the power to bring many out of their own despair. It's perverse the way that this happens, the way that someone's pain, or seeing/hearing it reflected in such magnificent prose or verse or paint can lift even the most far gone of patients from their tomb or cesspool. It has the ability to bring those sunken souls back to life. They can suddenly breathe again. They can suddenly move and feel ways that they thought were going to be impossible to feel ever again.
Pete Quirk, the lead singer of the Seattle-based band, The Cave Singers, refers to that lonely land in the song, "Swim Club," one of the standouts from the group's early 2011 offering, "No Witch." It's a song that seems full of snake-bitten folks, or just one guy - it's hard to tell - who are staring down the grim corridor of dead end roads and skies of nothingness and nowhere. Things have gotten eerily calm and stagnant and the song's mood reflects a sort of place in a life where the crossroads - where a decision to turn it all around could have been made - can be seen squarely in the rearview mirror and with every passing second, getting further and further behind them. The way it is just happens to be this desolate place where you've got yourself and nobody but yourself to make anything good happen. The specific person in this song is not just in a lonely land, but he's also got himself a lonely bed, we hear, and this all produces someone who's predictably, "Livin' like a lonely man." We understand, from experience and all of our specific lonely times, that living as a lonely man is oftentimes a choice, the result of a poor decision or three or stupid fucking dumb luck. We understand that this can be fixed or bent back into shape with time and some extra stuff. We also, very much understand, that there's nothing that can be done about living in a lonely land. That is a sorry place and that is an exile all its own.
The Cave Singers, over the course of three records, but especially on this newest collection, have become experts at conveying the mind and the heart of those lonely men who are dramatically screwed by also living in lonely lands. Quirk, guitarist Derek Fudesco and drummer Marty Lund take us into those places that sound so nice to get drunk in, to get half-drunk in, just to let the obviously poor posture and disposition of it all just wash away into the stark and coarse background. Quirk sings, "My mind wakes me up every night," on "Black Leaf," and it's clear that that's no way that anyone would like to live, but it's amazing how boomy the walls are in such a lonely land.