Caldwell Shine

Caldwell Shine

Caldwell Shine

Which Way Is Mine

Caldwell Shine is not only a singer/songwriter, but a band as well. Eschewing indie-rock clichés (angular Gang of Four riffs, nerdy Death Cab for Cutie vocals, irony-laden lyrics), Shine instead opts for something more classic and timeless. At first, on “In This Sound,” I was thinking that Shine was attempting to reach the stadium heights of U2; strip away the funk and you’ll find something nearly as atmospheric as a Brian Eno-produced U2 album cut. “In This Sound” is trippy, incandescent, and intellectual, unifying the hippie aesthetic of freefall jamming with the structured audioscapes of spacey prog rock. From that point on, you know that Shine isn’t settling for easy listening.

Perhaps the most accurate description of this CD would be Radiohead with heart. For all of Radiohead’s obsessive sonic detail, envelope-pushing guitar dynamics, and forward-looking electronic puzzle pieces, they’re not an emotionally embraceable group aside from a handful of involving, albeit depressing, cuts (“High and Dry,” “Let Down”). Shine, too, plays with tempo and atmosphere but in a more accessible fashion. The otherworldly “Sweet Mother Earth” is propelled by spellbinding drums and flighty acoustic guitars while “Today” is seasoned with bits of jazz and folk.

The slower cuts are just as compelling as the rockers, which include the serrated “The Courage Song” and “These Wired Times.” That Shine is willing to go against the grain as both a singer/songwriter (no John Mayer or Jack Johnson moves here) and as a group (no comparisons to be made with Modest Mouse) is certainly welcome. However, it’s the overall quality of the CD that keeps it in repeat mode for me.

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