Seven Days, Farm, The Cave
By Dan Bolles [10.08.08]
From the woolly nether regions of northwestern Vermont, experimental-folk trio Farm return with their highly anticipated third album, The Cave. Local music critics, rejoice! Following last year’s excellent, if somewhat unwieldy, Gray Birds, the disc defies easy categorization — local music critics, grumble! It’s possible to identify influences on a track-by-track basis, but as a whole the album is a stunning and diverse collection of tunes exhibiting a marked evolution in both style and scope.
Role-swapping chameleons Ben Maddox, Joshua Givens and Jedd Kettler — each a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter — lead off with “Bulls,” a tune that justifies Camper Van Beethoven comparisons. It’s short and sweet, with just a dab of plaintive lyrical innocence.
Obliging the “Americana-noir” tab thrust upon them by certain members of the local press . . . ahem, “Revelation Sessions” follows. Atmospheric slide guitar swirls around a gently roiling acoustic guitar, while the lyrics are delivered in an Isaac Brock-meets-Valium fashion. If Modest Mouse went on a folk bender, it might sound a lot like this — or Sun Kil Moon’s Tiny Cities, of course.
“Second Song” is a pleasant little ditty with the slightest breezy-Brit-pop tinge. It’s the closest thing to a love song you’ll find here.
With guitars blazing over pounding drums and bass, “Noah’s Horse” is brutal and devilish, exuding Mule Variations-era, Waits-esque tomfoolery.
“Future Things” follows, keeping the volume turned up and listeners guessing with a full-throttle, indie-rock romp.
“Bread Dust Gold Dust” is a sinister instrumental interlude, setting us up for the album’s second half.
“Vaquero” provides lilting acoustic relief from the aural assault of the previous three tracks. Having mentioned Mark Kozalek’s Sun Kil Moon already, I’m a bit loath to do so again. But if I did, it would work.
The remainder of the album follows in similarly unpredictable style. If nothing else, Farm keep us on our toes. Exhibit A: the bouncy, borderline dance-pop groove of “Flew Off,” which might be the best cut on a terrific album.
Farm was already good. And they’ve gotten even better. So where the mammoth 18-track Gray Birds was almost too much of a good thing, the 15 songs found on (in?) The Cave are almost not enough. But so goes that old showbiz axiom, “Leave ’em wanting more.” We do, boys. We do.
Farm celebrate the release of their new album this Saturday at Winooski’s Monkey House with a smorgasbord of local rockers, including The Breaking In, How to Stay Alive in the Woods and northern New York’s Monsterbuck.
State of Mind review
Farm - The Cave [self-released]
by Ryan Lowell
November 13, 2008
I've found my three new favorite bands and they're all Farm. Whether they're easing listeners in with stripped-down folk‚ weaving elaborate blues-tinged masterpieces‚ or offering straightforward rock‚ Farm offer something for everybody. The first time I listened to The Cave‚ it seemed so scattered across the genre map that it felt more like a compilation than the fruits of one band. The songs are cohesive as a group‚ but there are so many different voices‚ noises and moods on the album that it seemed improbable for only three men to have created it.
Farm succeed at being so diverse by tossing out traditional band guidelines of one guy to an instrument by allowing the multi-talented Jedd Kettler‚ Joshua Givens and Ben Maddox to take turns with the microphone and a slew of instruments. What results is a musical Chinese fire drill; every time you think you know where Farm is headed next‚ someone else grabs the wheel and peels out in a completely different direction. At the entrance of The Cave‚ we find "The Bulls‚" a playfully naïve narrative that serves as great foreplay for the audio orgasm ahead. "Revelation Sessions" follows with a twangy acoustic feel that dominates the first few songs on the album. The beginning of "Blast Furnace" hints at Farm's diversity by opening with an array of percussion that sounds like a blacksmith was in the studio forging steel to the beat.
But it's not until the seductive blues rock of "Noah's Horse" that Farm reveal their louder side. Energy climaxes in "The Middle‚" a catchy instrumental track driven by minimalist blues riffs and punctuated with harmonica. Cave comes to a mellow end with "Roots Dug In‚" a relaxed ending to an exciting album. While "Roots" may not be the most surprising result of the fire drill‚ it gives listeners a chance to catch their breath and reflect on the incredible joyride Farm just took them on.
Burlington Free Press - Brent Hallenbeck, Dec. 4, 2008
Farm — The Cave — The Franklin County trio has reined in the omnivorous musical approach they took on their fantastic 2007 debut “Gray Birds” in favor of something that’s meets that album’s breadth halfway. “The Cave” is a little more streamlined, a merger between low-fi indie-rock and straight ahead but creative rock ‘n’ roll. It’s hard to imagine something that’s both beautifully austere and ambitiously epic, but “The Cave” accomplishes just that.
released October 1, 2008
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