Predicting where the momentum of a Caddywhompus song will go is impossible. Each song shifts at the drop of a hat, without any notice whatsoever. It disorients and fascinates me each time, especially on a song like “Company” that jam packs about seven different identities into one song. On UrbanDictionary, the phrase Caddywhompus is described as ‘crooked’ and ‘uneven’. Fitting.
On Remainder, their debut album, the production is raw, which gives Sean Hart’s drumming a very explosive effect. The overall sound gets congested at times, but that serves as a great setup for their recent release, Feathering A Nest.
Remainder’s sound doesn’t have a structure as steady or forward moving as their later releases. Experiments with a Korg on “Let The Water Hit The Floor” makes for an interesting listen, but the lack of polish doesn’t fit in with the overall scope they accomplish in their later releases.
Caddywhompus‘ second LP, The Weight provides more raucous energy and shows a transition into what gets smoothened out on Feathering A Nest. Rehm’s guitars are at their grittiest here, especially on “The Others.” The quiet moments are the least compelling moments here, though. They dabble in bringing some folk into the mix, but it’s an element they aren’t fully ready for.
What makes Feathering A Nest a great listen is the clean sound among all the noise. The production helped amplify what was already there tremendously, being that they don’t really get their rocks off on dizzying guitar note combinations, or 13/8 time signatures. Such constant transitioning might make it feel easy to call them a Math or Progressive Rock band, but that would be misleading. The bare boned roster of Hart on drums and Rehm on guitar and vocals isn’t the prototypical Prog lineup. They don’t go on 20 minute long wandering saxophone solo.
Now that their sound has gotten a lot sunnier, even less abrasive Math Rock bands like Tera Melos and Ponytail have more of a bite to them sound-wise. This helps them run the gamut a little more. On Feathering A Nest, Chris Rehm’s vocal stylings provide a softness that helps a seamless transition into folksier territory, as heard on “Entitled” and “Stuck.”
Unpredictability in a Caddywhompus song is presented in a more contained fashion. Incredible proficiency can be heard throughout Feathering A Nest but the waves of unique riffs are each palatable and easily understood upon first listen. “Layers” gives a full spectacle of this in action. Rehm’s guitar starts off power-charged, then gets sludgy, and then ends in echoed distortion. The dexterity of fingers don’t really matter as much when someone’s able to go from one style to the next like that. It takes virtuosity to handle either side: a great riff that’s easier to emulate, and a dizzying array of meter bending shreds that someone like Marnie Stern can bring to the table.
The loud and frantic energy of Caddywhompus brings about an outlandish effort with minimal tools at their disposal. Each song has so many different variations that their best work feels like a Rock and Roll sound collage. From start to finish, you’re hit by wave after wave of ideas and there’s never a break in the action.