Album Review: Teenage Cavegirl – Candy Cigarettes

Lifting Our Blasé Disaffected Lenses

by Jay Armstrong

Candy CigarrettesLacking neither drive nor effort, Teenage Cavegirl took an idea of who they were, faced square the potential of what they should/could/would become, leaned heavy their shoulder against the wheel and got down to the job proper. There is a strange cult fanaticism towards bands rooted in a belief what they do is naturally derived. Some will hear Candy Cigarettes and believe it is the sort of sound which merely arrives; as though the universe has a benevolent disposition and by some mystical fog albums such as this sort of just appear out of it. If there is any truth to natural abilities–I have my doubts but we can save the argument for another day–then such a nature is merely the foot in the door for forming a band. I subscribe to Dylan’s belief if he didn’t write the songs someone else would have; it seems the concept of a collective subconscious–especially in the realm of art–borders on irrefutable. Beyond what is out of ones control though remains a thousand hours of practice, a million opportunistic dead ends, heartbreaking defeatist “what’s the point” self-loathing, and more Tuesday night shows playing for three people than anyone would care to keep count which define the path walked before arriving in the general psyche as a band worth noting.

Two years is a short time to end up with a well rounded display of craft as we have with Candy Cigarettes–certainly it is beyond the anticipations of those who felt convicted early on they would remain one dimensional, for better or worse, til the end–let us not discard their obvious effort at chiseling themselves into totems of rock n roll worth leaning on which this ten inch speaks boldly for; both sides of this record come off as natural unique cohesive noise; it did not come by accident. When Teenage Cavegirl someday find themselves listed in the annals of that which kept the dream alive in those back-building years of Austin, remember to remind your kids they did not get there by accident, they earned it, Candy Cigarettes was merely the moment we lifted our blasé disaffected lenses to see the band for who we should have recognized their potential to be all along.

Why must we choose to be divisive with everything? Some might blame the political climate. Some might blame the need to hold tight to that which one feels belonging to as the world around us collapses in on itself under the weight of overpopulated gentrification leaving those craving substance a need to define what they love with precise terms. Can we not for a little while keep from ruining that which we find worthy of admiration by reducing it to dismissive terminology for the sake of shoving it into boxes with cute labels? Every single person who reviews an album, mentions a band, champions a scene/city/block is valuable. Without reading any early reviews on Candy Cigarettes I am rightfully suspicious of what I will find. Are you too not already nauseous? “Garage,” tribal,” “60’s,” and since the de facto go to for someone wearing a leather jacket and sunglasses is calling it “jangly,” it seems likely someone in the vicinity of a Coachella echo-chamber will toss that one in the air hoping by some miracle it sticks despite being completely off the mark.  I will read the reviews on this album, I will enjoy them, I will remember having spent countless hours doing the exact same thing. I will remind myself anyone championing that which we love with positive intentions is on our side and important in helping keep it sustained. This is not an attack on how someone goes about sharing this album or this band. The point is we must get over our desperate depressing need to label things by genre and begin legitimate efforts to say why we love something articulated with conviction in a way which reminds each of us to step away from these camps we have created suffocating the sense of collective experience one qualifier at a time. Refusal of acknowledging our souls are thirsting for the ALL over the childish MINE has been nothing short of negative in every possible way. Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled album review.

Teenage Cavegirl take rhythms which could animate even the corpse of the Johnny Rockers welded to their bar stool at Yellow Jacket, their lyrics seep in B-52 hooks without the weighty post seventies David Byrne-esque unnecessary anchor of contrived lyrics yet come at us boiled down minimalistic in true west coast fashion, all while the guitar’s asymmetrical holier-than-thou presence has Link Wray and Hideki Ishima interwoven in a way one can taste the ethereal influence but one would sound foolish shouting it over the crowd between one of their songs as an attempt to seem intelligent in front of their crush.

Every song on Candy Cigarettes is socially spinable making it hard to really say what stands out worth spotlighting. “Space Girl” was a solid choice for early release. Personal favorites so far are probably “No Good//So Bad” or the hand jivin “Leavin’ Here.” Ask me in a week what my opinion is and I will likely give different answers seeing as there are no flat spots on the record and even the structural repetition never feels redundant. This really is about the best album any of us could have hoped for from Teenage Cavegirl. Final verdict: one solid Henry Winkler “AAAYYYYYYYY” circa 1978.

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