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THE CAVE SINGERS & r & Invitation Songs & r & 3 Stars & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & he tracks on the folk-y debut Invitation Songs by Seattle three-piece the Cave Singers are remarkably level. Rhythmic repetitive guitars settle neatly with mid-tempo drums. Even though lead singer Pete Quirk's voice is a nasal warble -- and the most distinctive sound on the album -- he sings within a limited range, lending consistency to songs like the finger-tapping "Dancing on Our Graves."

While steadiness makes for a good album, it keeps Invitation Songs from being, well, great. Opening track "Seeds of Night" feels like it builds toward something -- an instrumental crescendo or vocal release, for example -- that never comes.

It's a mild letdown, but one intensified by the knowledge that bass player Derek Fudesco was a founding member of two high-energy, experimental bands: Murder City Devils and Pretty Girls Make Graves. Maybe the Cave Singers just need a little more time to find that release we're still waiting for.


DOWNLOAD: "Cold Eye"


Hands Across the Void

4 Stars

& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & D & lt;/span & isplaying a consistently chilled attitude, Tiny Vipers opens its record by grafting emotional simplicity onto its minimalist approach. Tiny Vipers is the nom de emote of Jesy Fortino, an acoustic singer/songwriter with a haunting prowl in her smoky staccato. Her simple minor-scale guitar lines complicate grave rhythms into a complete composition. "Forest on Fire" adds noise to the backdrop of a single perpetual chord and a considerable amount of shoe-gazing. Then the album glides into the optimistic "Shipwreck" ("We know that life is beautiful / though surreal at times") before directly addressing Fortino's loneliness in comparison to others' solitude (though only as a kind of transitional phase she's going through). The album hits a climax with the powerful "Swastika" and then combines each song's distinct feeling into "The Downward." It's an appropriate conclusion to a chilled-out album.


DOWNLOAD: "Swastika"
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