Social Caterpillar (Alphabet Crown Record Release) • snag • Caley Conway
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Self-described as a psychedelic chamber ensemble for the disobedient and melancholic youth, Milwaukee’s SOCIAL CATERPILLAR—a four-piece collective composed of vocalist and guitarist Kyle Smith, bassist Eli Smith, violinist and guitarist Eric Ash, and drummer Whisper Crystal—have been playing and recording a unique style of music that defies simple categorization together since 2016. The band, which which features current and former members of Midwest DIY staples like Cairns, Swells, Gauss, Scowler, and Alta, have sought to traverse diverse sonic territories accented with an expansive instrumentation and a punk ethos that gives SOCIAL CATERPILLAR their inimitable sound. Deeply personal lyrics with an ethic towards protest layered over acoustic and distorted guitars and a pounding rhythm section mixed with sprawling string and horn arrangements, SOCIAL CATERPILLAR embodies a method of experimentation that creates uniquely unparalleled and haunting soundscapes for their listeners.
SOCIAL CATERPILLAR’S newest full length, When You Woke Up To Dances of Light, sees the band again returning to Electrical Audio in order to create a record that at once continues the foundations laid on their debut LP while traversing new and expansive sonic territories that transgress the boundaries of their previous work without abandoning the core of their sound and approach to music. With When You Woke Up To Dances of Light, SOCIAL CATERPILLAR find their place in an enigmatic intersection of a variety of styles wherein the creative aesthetic the band has cultivated skillfully navigates a distinct blend of poetic lyricism and complex arrangements accented with violin and horn sections in such a way that is uniquely their own. Calm and carefully composed at times while chaotic and distorted with ambient and experimental elements at others, with their newest effort SOCIAL CATERPILLAR showcase their ability to continuously evolve into new territories and the results are as beautiful as they are hauntingly rememberable.
Milwaukee’s Snag came from crisis and anxiety. Environmental, economic, existential– their music represents the full-throated terror of living in a world that seems to have no regard for its own future.
Snag’s LP is in many ways the most pure distillation of their sound yet, a Welcome the Plague Year-esque driving and melodic screamo record with some of the most potent and motivational lyrics the band has put to paper. With the album opener dedicated to the memory of David Buckel– an LGBT rights attorney who self-immolated to protest the usage of fossil fuels in 2018– and profits from the jittery border-abolitionist anthem “The Only Rational Response” going to Voces De La Frontera (“Voices from the Border”), Snag shows their commitment to social causes is as strong as their commitment to adventurous, heart-grabbing music. Moments like the elegiac and uplifting interlude “Morning” as well as the gritty, off-kilter stomp and chaotic, yet yearningly melodic guitar work of “Hunger Stone” show Snag reaching a musical maturity that most screamo bands never quite make it to.
With album packaging that puts the responsibility in the listener’s hands– including a zine full of pictures and lyrics, a box of matches, and an envelope full of pollinator seeds– Snag evokes the tension of being an active and informed individual in today’s self-destructive world in every way. “It’s your choice,” they say. “I tried to tell you.” – Ellie Kovach
Caley Conway takes the stage in candy apple red, slinging a matching telecaster and a new set of rules for the singer/songwriter paradigm. Rooted in folk but hardly bound to it, her inventive style ranges from jazz to post-rock, hints at the familiar, and embraces a dissonant beauty. The Milwaukee native’s breezy voice and disarming wit belie a deep complexity that has earned her praise as “the next big thing in folk music” by No Depression Magazine. Paste Magazine praised her 2016 full-length Silk for Life as “an ambitious piece that puts Conway on the map.” 2018 saw her sharing stages with the likes of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, Joan Shelley and more. Equally enthralling as a solo performer or a full band with backup singers, Conway leaves rooms hushed; her audiences somewhere between chilled and chuckling. Her new EP is slated for release early this year.