Cains & Abels are another astonishing band with roots in Grand Rapids, MI, though Chicago is where they stay now for the most part. I've mentioned my friend David Sampson before, who I met long years ago and who has made these songs home to his nearly embarrassingly honest assessments and spiritual observation. The band just finished recording a new record, "Call Me Up" and I was stoked to have a chance to hear it hot-off-the-hard-drive style. It's great in some ways because I know David and have heard a lot of the Cains & Abels stuff over the years, but I don't really have a deep history with it, haven't even seen the band play in maybe like four or five years. The reason this feels good is that I get a chance to hear the new album with a relatively open mind and objective take, rather than the nepotism and pre-concepts that most music I check out has. And god, it's so fucking good.
This sounds like a band who spent a lot of time in the lo-fi, heart-on-sleeve indie folk ghetto and got so sick of it they said fuck it and decided to actually go for it, singing stories and playing whatever music made sense in the context of those true stories, regardless of how the sound might be received. The result is a slicker-than-most production and some heavy Neil Young guitar tones holding up Sampson's honest-to-god bellowing about all of the aboves. When I was 20 I would sit in my room in Ypsilanti all winter listening to bands that could have been C&A then, wondering about all the things that they were brave and wise enough to sing songs and make records about that I could barely find the understanding to talk to myself about. Slowed down and sad in a way that feels only triumphant, never wallowing. I hope for the sake of all the bummed out, searching 20 year-olds in the world today and also everyone else, that somebody puts out this record post haste. Here are two mp3s the band said I could share with you. Please check them out and feel better about the bad times.