The Sky Life
Caves


4.7
superb

Review

by Jared Ponton EMERITUS
February 20th, 2015 | 30 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Is it just enough to be used? No, no, use me well.

"It can be kind of hard to get their attentions with a band many of them have never heard of. Like, I know a lot of the bastards probably believe they've heard better stuff anyway."

"Well, you love the album, though, right?"

"Well, yeah."

"Than make up something that will grab their attentions by force, even if you have to exaggerate."

"Alright, fine. Caves is Wilco on fire with emotional intensity of Bon Iver. That's my summary. I bet that will at least get Sowing to jam it."

Above is an edited conversation with a friend that led to this article's inception. As indicated, The Sky Life and their 2012 album Caves is hard to accurately and fairly describe – they have their own particular niche-y sound. It's some parts folk-y indie pop, and given the Wilco tag, some parts alt-country as well, but most important, it hold its own identity within the crowd of its neighbors. Some of this individualism comes in how the short nine-song album is structured; another part is how singer Justin Carter sounds vocally. The songwriting style here is peculiar: there's certainly a loose verse-chorus format, but the way the songs sound together within their placing of the track listing makes Caves a complete album through and through, lulling and escalating when it should.

But that's not to say that Caves doesn't have comparisons to others it can be drawn to, or rather, the feelings The Sky Life's sound evokes. It shares a particular quality with such mainstream, cult classics as Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago and Mimicking Birds eponymous self-titled debut where you want to play it over and over again - an emotional connection is easily formed, and a craving for it begins. Given the homage of the two prior albums, Caves' success revolves around the the intense impact of its vocal melodies, mainly delivered from lead voice Carter, but also from his two other band mates on backup mics as well, drummer Josh Stevens and bass-keyboardist Bobby Kuhl.

Carter tells desolate, relatable anecdotes with an edge of hope on the horizon: relationships, depression, goddamn reality as we know it. The strength of second track “Stop Thinking” bares profound consideration. The triple-vocal attack of the singers comes during an acoustically-strummed, surging chorus that calls for individuals to be just that, individuals: “Now is all we have, spend it with you love, in an ocean of your thoughts, and not their ideas for you.” The sentiments ring strong and without pretense, emotive and resonate. “Son to the Seed” is another highlight cradled by dissonant guitars, electric, and drumming with a certain drunken edge. Its short instrumental bridge erupts into a unified crescendo of all the singers and pounding instruments, climatic and sublime in the moment's context.

Caves is a surprise given its diamond-in-the-rough status, true, but also in the fact The Sky Life never sounded like this on their two previous albums. 2008's Dimes & Discourses and 2010's Roots and Wings both contained digitalized drumming and auto-tuned vocals, a stark contrast to the stripped-down and honest product presented here. And certainly for the better. Stranger yet, their record label, Deep Elm Records, is renowned for its post-rock roster of bands, not its more traditional drum-bass-guitar bands. The question has to be asked: Who dropped the ball in the coverage for this one? Masters of using empty space and crescendos to their advantage for a killer songwriting combo are rare and fleeting; The Sky Life's Cave is a heartfelt statement that should be remembered and recognized.



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user ratings (15)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Ponton
Emeritus
February 20th 2015


6114 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

available for free



http://deepelmdigital.com/album/caves



highly recommended for beer jams

Digging: Brand New - Science Fiction

Gyromania
February 20th 2015


22723 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

damn... i really have to get this

Ponton
Emeritus
February 20th 2015


6114 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

jam stop thinking to test



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzUjoxUrhCQ

Gyromania
February 20th 2015


22723 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

damn, that was great. love the layered voices with that acoustic guitar

Gyromania
February 20th 2015


22723 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

and that last minute. incredible

Ponton
Emeritus
February 20th 2015


6114 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

yeah the voices are really strong here. That chorus in particular reminds me of brand new's dual vocal stuff

henryChinaski
February 20th 2015


3861 Comments


Sounds great! Will check this out now.

Gyromania
February 20th 2015


22723 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is really enjoyable

ComeToDaddy
February 21st 2015


1576 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The recommended section sold me, and I just listened to the first 2 tracks on this. Breathtaking stuff, really great find

ComeToDaddy
February 21st 2015


1576 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This whole thing is just gorgeous

Ponton
Emeritus
February 21st 2015


6114 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

glad you love it dude. im jared, nice to meet you





also for the record everything on deep elm is free to download. thats over 200 albums of fair to good

quality music. I mean, cave spelunking through there is how i found this

ComeToDaddy
February 21st 2015


1576 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice to meet you too man. I should probably run around and make an effort to introduce myself to all of the other staff I also don't know now that I'm a contrib hey.



Oh boy, The Appleseed Cast are signed to them. Looks like I'll finally be able to explore their discography fully, thanks for the heads up.

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
February 21st 2015


6221 Comments


that intro looks familiar.. I think plane did something like that for a Joanna Newsom review (though for the entirety iirc). I like it though, and the rest of it too. nice and fun, but also insightful in its analysis.

Gyromania
February 21st 2015


22723 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^ you're thinking of jenny hval viscera

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
February 21st 2015


6221 Comments


oh right

Ponton
Emeritus
February 21st 2015


6114 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

oh yeah, i remember that. i think it was with sam

Gyromania
February 21st 2015


22723 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

just read it again. still amusing

RadicalEd
February 21st 2015


8500 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great read. Downloading the album from Bandcamp link right now.



Expecting something about as awesome as "There will be fireworks" because you hyped this so much.

Digging: Susanne Sundfor - Music For People In Trouble

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 21st 2015


24613 Comments


"Caves is Wilco on fire with emotional intensity of Bon Iver."

Oh really? Caught my attention, I'll be jamming this!

Seriously though, good review and cool intro. You also threw in a reference to Mimicking Birds, so you know I'm game. This actually sounds perfect.

Digging: The National - Sleep Well Beast

RadicalEd
February 21st 2015


8500 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is very good.



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