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July 2014
Cadillac Flambe
"Old American Law
"
mp3

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: Clairaudients - I'm A Loudmouth, You're A Puppet (EP)

Album review: Clairaudients - I'm A Loudmouth, You're A Puppet (EP)

 
(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
 
Speaking personally, I’m a Loudmouth, You’re a Puppet has been on my list of most anticipated local albums for 2013. I’ve been a fervent fan of Clairaudients since their days under the moniker The Atlantic. I’ve seen the band add members to their lineup (Chase Horseman joined at the beginning of 2013), perform numerous times at numerous venues, and now I’ll see them through their first album release.
 
I’m a Loudmouth, You’re a Puppet has been in the works for quite some time. And after listening to the album several times, it’s easy to say that the wait was well worth it. The album has so many subtle intricacies and deep meanings that anyone can tell it wasn’t recorded on the fly—a lot of thought and heart went into the album.
 
Clairaudients introduces itself with a nearly four-minute song simply entitled “Intro,” a chilling, soothing number which serves its purpose well as a lead-off track. With nothing but harmonized vocals and twinkling guitars, you’ll get lost in the ambiance.
 
Keeping in style, the first track fades out and another calming track slide into slot two. “Like a Song” is full of metaphors, which in my case, are up for interpretation. It’s the kind of song that you can listen to to find meaning, or a song that you can just jam to.
 
The album picks up halfway through with “Cellar.” This song easily takes the cake for heaviest track on the album. Vocalist Patrick Robinson definitely brings out his angry voice here. Deep, gravely, and abrasive sounds pour out of his mouth as the rest of the band falls in suit, striking heavy chords and pounding big drums. 
 
And again, before you know it, the tempo slows back down with “Broken Mend,” a solemn track full of heart-melting lyrics. The last track opens up with a strong organ chord, and is quickly followed by a jaunty guitar tune. “Back to the Sun” is a seven-minute anthem, and seems to carry a much lighter attitude than that of the other four. It appears to be more laid back and cheerful due in part to the upbeat, intricate mesh of instrumentals.
 
As I’ve mentioned already, I’m a Loudmouth is a great piece of work. There is so much content and impact stuffed into a small five-song album. The incredible musical accompaniment that is created by this sextet is something to be in awe of in itself, with the added element of Robinson’s lyrics.
 
I’m A Loudmouth, You’re A Puppet was recorded and produced at Massive Sound Studios by Jeff Pickman.
 
Tonight is the long-awaited release party for I’m A Loudmouth, You’re A Puppet. Clairaudients will be celebrating at Davey’s Uptown this evening with special guests Not A Planet and we are voices. Doors open at 8, show at 9. This is an 18+ show; $12 if under 21, $10 for 21+. All attending ticket holders will receive a digital download of the album. Facebook event page.
 
 
--Steven Ervay 
 

Steven Ervay is super rad. 

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