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July 2014
Cadillac Flambe
"Old American Law
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Some bands have the ability to create music that reaches into a chasm of sorrow and affliction, exposing the deepest of wounds. With its latest release Old American LawCadillac Flambe boasts nine heavily weighted tracks that escort the listener through calamitous musical compositions, and tragic tales told by the mesmerizing vocals of husband and wife Kris and Havilah Bruders.

 
Since its previous release, Eli’s Porch, Cadillac Flambe has had to adjust its sound. The band’s harmonica player James “Pappy” Garrett, who was an integral component to its dark Americana blues approach, died in a car accident during the making of the 2011 EP. Shrinking down to a four-piece, the band has shifted in a decidedly more rock ‘n roll direction, still retaining its rootsy nature but packing a more substantial punch.
 
Ushered in by Kris Bruders’ signature gritty blues guitar sound, “Shakin’ Baby” sets the album in motion, highlighted additionally by Michael Payne’s massive but calculated drum work and Dave Duly’s perfectly in-the-pocket bass playing. On this album, Payne and Duly add a collective rhythmic wallop unheard in previous recordings, pervading the tunes with a rock and R&B heartbeat.
 
After the first track, you’re likely in for the ride, which allows Cadillac Flambe to pull you in to its turbulent descent.
 
This emotional tailspin careens to its greatest depths in “3 Bullets,” the album’s longest and most powerful track—one split into two distinct acts. In Act I, Havilah Bruders tells the story of a desperate mother trying to feed her child, reaching out to the church, the government, and the bank, and is turned away by each. Act II arrives in the middle of the song, which slows from a steady 4/4 to a haunting 6/8 groove, as she discloses the news of her child’s death. A chilling anguish is felt as Bruders’ voice rages, a deliriousness is experienced as she transitions from a quiet whimper to a grief-stricken roar, also revealing the song's final crux: the woman has murdered the three entities that indirectly caused her child's death. Her soul and gospel background is most noticeable here, as she carries us through each scene and makes us feel her misery and despair, measure by measure. It’s also apparent in “Sweet Chariot,” where she takes us through a woman’s frenzied fear of impending death, into her answered prayers of serenity and light.
 
Most of the songs on Old American Law were penned by Kris Bruders, whose own vocals have a mystic, commanding, but sincere quality to them. Take “Father to Son” for instance, a narrative about a father’s beliefs and pressures onto his son. Bruders’ vocal delivery at once contains the father’s threatening tone and the son’s subsequent harsh, casual defiance. In the album’s title track, his voice characterizes the overall personality of the album. His words and the dusty Delta blues sound of his hollow-body custom magnesium guitar convey the voice of an uncompromising outlaw. Bruders’ authoritative, booming vocals—often coupled with his wife’s harmonies, sometimes impassioned, sometimes a simple adornment to his own—and the unique gravel of his guitar dig into the meat of each song.
 
Plenty of bands write songs about death, family strife, social issues, and religious conviction, yet few are able to execute it as effectively as Cadillac Flambe does in Old American Law. The throttle of the rhythm section, the bedraggled, melancholy guitar tones, the dissonant piano chords, and the soulful vocals push the message of each song to the forefront. The LP, which was tracked, mixed, and mastered at Little Class Records by Keegan Smith, is the strongest manifestation of anything the band has released to date. 
 
--Michelle Bacon

 

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Album review: The Quivers - Gots To Have It!

Album review: The Quivers - Gots To Have It!

(Photo by Steve Gardels)

The Quivers' new EP, aptly titled Gots To Have It!, serves up 13 minutes of raucous music that you can dance to, straight up!

Track 1: “Blue Light”
Abe Haddad’s push and pull Stratocaster guitar intro on “Blue Light” is like the turnover of an old dormant Studebaker that has finally been untarped for a summer of hot, late night love runs. Bernie Dugan’s backbeat sets the idle on this Midwestern tavern dance number that also reveals lead vocalist/bassist Terra Peal’s ability to blend her strong, soulful voice—which somewhat resembles Pat Benatar’s—with her patent banshee screams that could have crumbled the former Iron Curtain, had it not been for David Hasselhoff’s embryonic Berlin Wall performance…

Track 2: “He Had It Comin’”
With its reserved country pickin’, hip-poppin’ diner waitress vocals, and county fair carousel keyboards, “He Had It Comin’” will keep your feet movin’ and your hair swishin’ back and forth, even if the lyrics aren’t really appropriate for either. Haddad’s honky-tonk guitar work, Todd Grantham’s playful keyboard licks—all infused with traces of soul—make delightful, each time the refrain comes around so you can sing, “He had it comin’… He had it comin’…”

Track 3: “I Sleep Here”
“I Sleep Here” may musically sound like some kind of mash up of Huey Lewis, Booker T., and Tommy James & the Shondells, but it very much stands on its own as pure Quivers' canon…and a song that you can’t help but grin ear-to-ear and wiggle to. Grantham sings lead on this ‘upbeat’ ballad, assuring us, “It’s pretty clear. I live alone with bravado, and ignore the phone.” And yes, that is Terra Peal growling out “Lordy, lordy!” in the background, tougher than Billy Idol ever was. That redheaded vixen sounds very much capable of damaging something if provoked.

Track 4: “What Went Wrong”
Peal struts her country vocal sensibilities to the pattering player piano saloon riffs in “What Went Wrong,” a song that will surely leave a dance floor full of boot scuffs and whiskey splatters. When Peal confesses, “I’ve been bad all my life,” it can make for some anxiousness, because her singing lends to many desires in the minds of many. Musically, perhaps the most contemporarily solid track on the EP, The Quivers show off their prowess and versatility, yet again.

Track 5: “Gots To Have It!”
“Gots To Have It!” bursts forth in purely fun, sock hop n’ roll fashion. Heavy snare hits (surely with some drumstick points toward the crowd), jogging keyboard chords, stacked vocals, and a tipsy rockabilly guitar solo that gets all up in your face and absolutely gets it done. This closing number burns a candle in the Church of Eighties Ending Credits Movie Songs ... Wait. It didn’t appear at the end of a John Cusack movie? Well, it should have!

The Quivers play rock n’ roll that is sometimes soulful, sometimes rockabilly, sometimes country, sometimes…well—sometimes it’s hard to classify just what they do best! One thing is for certain; they are the perfect entertainers for pretty much any given night. You will smile, and you will quiver, when that band—the one straight from the garage on Sex Appeal St.— thrusts upon you when you – Gots To Have It!

You, too, can be rocked by The Quivers tomorrow night, August 15, at Aftershock for the KC Wednesday Night Jamboree. They'll be performing with The Cave Girls. They'll also be playing at Greaserama on Sunday, September 2.

--Christian Anders Liljequist

Christian is a freelance writer. He will graduate from UMKC in the spring of 2013 with a BA in Communication Studies (Journalism & Mass Communication).

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