Other than a shared record label (Matador) and recording engineer (Colin Stewart), Derek Fudesco's latest band, the Cave Singers, really doesn't have much at all in common with his former group, Pretty Girls Make Graves. The Cave Singers' brand of Americana draws from punk and blues influences, which translates into gritty, folk-inspired roots-music. Captivating songs — such as the delicately finger-picked "Beach House," from last year's Welcome Joy — have the sacred intimacy practiced by bands such as Fleet Foxes, but they strive for hopeful realism instead of being focused on pristine perfection. But the spine-tingling, raspy percussion and haunting vocal delivery of "Dancing on Our Graves" (from 2007's Invitation Songs) personifies this band's greatest strength: the ability to bring light to dark subject matter by taking the themes of loss and death head-on.
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