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Capybara – Dave Drusky February 18, 2012

Posted by gwyoung in Album Reviews, Music.
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Artist: Capybara

Album: Dave Drusky

Release: The Record Machine, 2012

Genre: Folk

RIYD: Band of Horses, Bon Iver, Wolf Parade

2012 has been a slow year for music so far, with only a few big releases and one major disappointment (looking at you, Lana Del Rey). Even the best albums so far haven’t been consistent: Grimes’ Visions has a few stellar moments but can’t really be considered a masterpiece, and Chairlift’s Something starts out incredibly strong but then loses that momentum about halfway through the album. While it’s true that things are picking up with new stuff from Burial and Sleigh Bells, the past few months have been sonically bleak (hence my lack of new posts.)

There is one album, though, that has caught my ear and nestled its way in. It wasn’t one of the ones I was anticipating, and I actually downloaded it on a whim having never heard of the band before, but after a few listens it’s reached the top of my list of the best of 2012 so far. That album is Dave Drusky, by a band called Capybara.

Capybara is actually a great name for this particular band, as it perfectly captures the rodent-like timidity of the gentle folk melodies as well as the wildness of some of the yelping vocals. Throughout the tracks on this Kansas City foursome’s sophomore album, they call to mind old indie rock favorites as diverse as Wolf Parade, The Shins, and early Band of Horses as well as today’s increasingly popular folk bands like Bon Iver.

The album opens with the lazily rolling “Late Night Bikes”, introducing the group’s egregious use of background “oohs” and “ahhs”. “Rain Apollo Trees” picks up the pace a bit, serving a similar purpose as “Mine’s Not a High Horse” did on The Shins’ Chutes Too Narrow. The Spencer Krug-like vocals come in on lead single “Neighbor Crimes”, which ups the rocking with a few power-chords, but doesn’t quite amp it up all the way. After this taste of energy, we get the slow and beautiful “Wild”, which sounds like it could’ve been lifted directly off of Band of Horses’ debut, Everything All The Time.

Next up is some more fast-paced stuff, including album highlight “Ruby Eyelids”, which chugs along with a steady drum-beat and piano chord rhythm while the rough falsetto floats around it before calming down for a melancholy bridge. The best moment on the album happens when it picks back up again, and this energy continues through to “Vandals”, which features another rousing chorus.

It’s clear from all of my references to other bands that Capybara wear their influences on their sleeves, but they’ve chosen their shirts well and woven the best threads of each into the fabric of their music. Some might fault them for not being the most original band of late, but to me Dave Drusky is a refreshing reminder that indie pop songwriting can still be infectious and incredibly engaging.

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