How in the world did a self-made album by two teenage unknowns get our attention? Read on to find out.
Running Time: 23:20
Label: Caliver Music
Genre: Alternative Folk, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Drug of Choice: Painkillers, Herbal Tea (They aren’t old enough to drink)
“The Highest Hopes”
This is the kind of story that NPR loves. Two white kids on the East Coast make ‘moody’ or ‘lush’ music from a house somewhere in upstate New York. All this story needs is a few beards and a lengthy speech about how someone seriously considered quitting music. Harrison Nantz and Corey Van Patten (jewish fellas?) are the 19-year-olds behind Caliver and their debut EP Box Spring is quite impressive for someone with that level of experience.
At its base, Caliver is not changing the world. Box Springs is a collection of songs about the idioms of love written by two college freshmen. What is worth appreciating here is the way that they approach those topics. While you would expect to hear either an awful, overly simplistic Pete Yorn acoustic set or a giddily awful Weezer Pop-Punk ripoff, Caliver sites their influences in Bon Iver and Mumford & Sons (though I think Swell Season is a more apt reference). The songwriting is shows pretensions of complexity and a fair respect for space and narrative patience. Those are not talents that come easily, and promise to pay off in spades as they improve as lyric writers. Perhaps most impressive about the songs on Box Spring is the sophistication with which the guys incorporate the horn, banjo, and piano arrangements into these tracks. I would be interested to hear them take a whack at centering a song around the piano, as these environmental additions tend to be more interesting than the acoustic strumming that centers the track on Box Spring.
As a record, the mix here is pretty raw. There are some rough edges with the vocal recording and it would be nice to here more dynamism in the instrumental levels (particularly to reduce the importance of the aforementioned acoustic). This is less of a problem on your headphones, but is fairly apparent over a loudspeaker. I have to begrudgingly admit that I am missing some of the studio effects that typically accompany these kinds of records. Of course, those effects wouldn’t be necessary if there was a little more affect in the vocal delivery. As the group begins to find their own voice and break away from ‘whisper song’, they will be more apt to pull off a raw performance and will be better for the effort. These minor complaints aside, Caliver is a group worth keeping an eye on.
Download Box Springs for FREE at Band Camp here.
Reviews – 27
Average Rating – 6.85
Highest Rating – 9.5 Blitzen Trapper’s American Goldwing
Lowest Rating – 4.0 Her Space Holiday’s Her Space Holiday