The Cave Singers with Michael Loveland
9 p.m. Monday
113 N. Crawford, Norman
$8 advance, $10 door
$10 advance, $12 door under 21
For some, Derek Fudesco’s transition as bassist for indie rockers Murder City Devils and Pretty Girls Make Graves to acoustic guitarist in burbling folksters The Cave Singers was a shocking departure.
But Fudesco objects: “I don’t think I’m doing anything different now at 35 than I did when I was 25. It’s still the same: It’s just making music.”
That’s where the similarities end. Whereas his aforementioned bands hewed close to garage-rock and post-punk traditions, The Cave Singers hail from the recent country-folk fascinations that spawned acts like Fleet Foxes and Vetiver.
The combo formed in an impromptu manner out of Fudesco’s living arrangement. He shares a house overlooking Seattle’s Capitol Hill area with singer Peter Quirk of indie-punk quintet Hint Hint.
The former home of a vocal coach soon became more than a nightly practice space for the two. When Fudesco laid down an acoustic guitar melody on tape prior to one of the final Pretty Girls tours, he returned to find Quirk had laid a vocal track over it, and a collaboration was born. Pretty Girls broke up shortly thereafter, putting Cave Singers front and center.
The simple, finger-picked guitar lines ring brightly, casting a sun-dappled presence on Quirk’s wavering blues-folk croon. He’s a big fan of Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsay Buckingham, whose raspy vocals he recalls. The gentle, pastoral beauty leans unhurried against a shade tree supping on the summer’s enduring warmth on last year’s upbeat second album, 2009’s “Welcome Joy.”
If you’re looking for continuity between Fudesco’s projects, you could point to the playing, which still features him picking with two fingers.
“I started playing guitar in this band,” Fudesco said. “I hadn’t played one before, and even now, we don’t really have a lot of songs where we have chords. A lot of it is single-note ” the same way I would write on bass; I just have a few more strings to work with.”
The group’s unfussy sound matches its impromptu work style, where basement jams provide entertainment in the absence of a television. In that manner, the two ended up with about 60 demos and half-ideas for the last album before paring it down to 10 tracks. Their work process has its drawbacks ” in this case, too much undeveloped material, which has prompted a plan to explore their ideas more fully next time.
“Even now, we’re finding stuff like, ‘Fuck, that’s better than a lot of stuff on the record. We should’ve done that,'” Fudesco said.
That’s not the only change on the horizon for The Cave Singers. After playing on a Spanish classical guitar for much of the first two albums, Fudesco’s purchased his first electric, a 1958 Danelectro.
“It’s a perfect dirty guitar sound. It has a great tone, and I use a bass amp when I play guitar, which adds a lot,” Fudesco said. As a result, “a lot of the writing we’ve been doing for this record is a little more aggressive and a little louder.”
The Cave Singers will offer a taste of that new sound at Monday’s Opolis show, in anticipation of recording a new album later this year. Hoping the songs will be more fully fleshed when heading into the studio, the trio’s going to test-drive them onstage.
“Taking them on the road and playing them is kind of the best way to work on a song to see how it vibes in a live setting,” Fudesco said. “Chris Parker