Caddywhompus' Odd Hours gets a killer review in Pitchfork
APR 24 2017
On their third album, the New Orleans duo master their omnivorous style, which ranges from hectic noise rock to jangling ambience to arena riffage—sometimes within the span of a single song.
In a culture that praises overnight fame and craves an endless stream of hits, the difficult, awkward path known as The Long Road to Success always loses travelers. Why bother with unpaid gigs, cramped tour vans, sleeping on floors, and saving up for studio time when you can easily polish a song at home and let the internet sort out your fate? There’s no shame in the latter route, but there’s something ineffably sweeter about witnessing a beloved underdog mature and pick up steam in real time. Just ask the rabid fans of Caddywhompus, a band that, nine years into their career, has released their most important album.
Caddywhompus is the New Orleans-based duo of singer/guitarist Chris Rehm and drummer Sean Hart, friends who have known each other since kindergarten in Houston, Texas, and have played music together since middle school. They’ll cite early inspirations like Sonic Youth, Nirvana, and Radiohead as soon as they’ll describe formative experiences with A Minor Forest, Don Caballero, and Explosions in the Sky. Grouper, the Caretaker, Vashti Bunyan, Roy Orbison, and Liz Phair sit side by side on their mixtapes. And the music Rehm and Hart write as Caddywhompus reflects their omnivorous musical appetites.
As far back as their 2010 debut LP, Remainder, the pair have mulched the contents of their iPods into a chirping, spazzy noise-rock that’s equally unhinged and pop literate. Rehm’s voice falls into the strange timbre of twerpish falsettos that rattle the bones—like Avey Tare’s yawps tamed by, say, Thom Yorke impersonating Ezra Koenig. The duo’s inclusive sound took on a new wrinkle with 2011’s The Weight EP, when they allowed themselves breathing room between bouts of erratic shredding. Three years later, the impressive Feathering a Nest diverged more frequently from angular riffs and punk tempos into post-rock’s shimmering vistas.
Odd Hours is too emotional to be math-rock, too energetic to be post-rock, too structured to be art-rock—there’s no neat categorization for a record this ambidextrous.
The third Caddywhompus album, Odd Hours, is the refined culmination of its predecessors; this stylistic tour de force rarely rests at the countless pit stops spread across its 40 minutes. Opener “Decent” kicks off with a whirlwind of proggy emo and pop punk. “Salmon Run” at first recalls OK Computer with its boomy drum kit and spacey guitar, before switching straight into fuzzy power chords and sing-along melodies à la Deerhoof. “Appetite” pulls a bait-and-switch, too, with a jittery bounce, like ’90s-era Modest Mouse, and a massive, galloping riff that could have shown up on Battles’ Mirrored. All this breakneck jamming and juggling can overwhelm, but the atmospheric instrumental “Ferment” and the straightforward “In Ways” offer palate cleansers amid the delirium.
It’s hard not to play connect-the-dots with Odd Hours, but the album is more accomplished than a well-curated grab bag of influences. Because Caddywhompus pulls from everywhere all at once, the flurry of their motions blurs into something unique unto itself. In just over a minute, “Waiting Room” moves from heavy riffing to a lazy waltz to 4/4 power-pop and back again—each transition seamless and unfussy as can be. Yet for all of the band’s remarkable skill and presence, little about them is ostentatious or gratuitous. Behind every hairpin turn and difficult time signature is a gush of effusive candor. Odd Hours is too emotional to be math-rock, too energetic to be post-rock, too structured to be art-rock—there’s no neat categorization for a record this ambidextrous.
On each half of Odd Hours, two varied, complete movements rise and fall with casual precision, the lockstep performance of bandmates with almost a decade’s practice behind them. The whole thing couldn’t exist without the duo’s years upon years spent playing flophouses, unlit basements, local block parties, and cold, uncrowded garages, with breaks to record each road-worn song in whichever buddy’s “studio” is cheap and available. It couldn’t exist without the slow work of cultivating a dedicated audience, fans that share their first experience with the band like a badge of honor. It couldn’t exist without the perseverance of two lifelong friends, who would still be playing these songs whether or not anyone bothered to listen.
Listen to the album and stay in touch with Caddywhompus here
Read the original article on Pitchfork