Califone – Quicksand / Cradlesnakes
Much to the behest (or relief) of a couple of interns, this edition of Currently Listening isn’t about Fleetwood Mac. I’d like to extend a public apology to Nora Curry and Joel Cruz for playing countless videos of “Rhiannon” and “Gypsy” the past couple of days in the office. I have to play a song to get it out of my head. The vicious cycle continues. I know, and I am sorry.
Califone is an experimental folk rock band from Chicago, founded after the breakup of frontman Tim Rutili’s previous band, Red Red Meat. Their sound is a marriage of the simple and the delicate, and brined in utter weirdness. Quicksand / Cradlesnakes, their 2003 record, is a mesmerizing album that encapsulates autumn to me. Acoustic guitars sweep like dead leaves across fuzzed-out, overdriven soundscapes. Violins swell and swirl about. Rutili and his band smack spoons, bang wastebaskets, and knock wine glasses. His vocals are warming and familiar; traditional harmonies soothe and round out the sonic experimentation.
Likewise, Rutili’s folktale lyrics tell incredibly sharp, beautiful stories of loss, desperation, and life in a small flyover-country town, among others. “Michigan Girls,” an especially hymn-like song, features Rutili whispering about an estranged relationship over minimalist acoustic accompaniment: “Straw bones nails of November clay / The way you kiss your uncle on the mouth.” I grow nostalgic for a time in my life that I have never actually lived through. This music is soft and powerful.
Califone have released 11 albums and one independent film, and play at the Kaufman Center’s Merkin Concert Hall on January 19th.
- Ryan Skrabalak
Video Sources: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEBULerKO6A, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51rfl6cc1FA