The Cave In family tree is a wondrous and many-splendored thing. These four men from Massachusetts have done enough for modern heavy music even if they had given us Cave In and Cave In alone. But due to the overflow of their talents and time, they’ve also blessed us with several off-shoots that, for the adventurous willing, are a blast to listen to in their own right: Clouds, Kid Kilowatt, King Duane Sunnapee, Mutoid Man, New Idea Society, The Octave Museum, Pet Genius, Zozobra, and Stephen Brodsky’s solo work (as well as broader connections to Converge, Doomriders, and Old Man Gloom). As a long-time fan, one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about all of these projects is the ability to break the Cave In kaleidoscope down into its various parts and see what fires the engines of each of the guys individually.
Which brings us to the newest offspring: Nomad Stones. This band features half of Cave In with guitarist Adam McGrath fielding guitar and vocal duties and drummer John-Robert Conners handling, well, drums. Joining them on bass is Erik Szyska, formerly of a band called Cheat Sheets (if my research is correct). Their self-titled debut is an 21-minute blast of garage rock. It’s fast, fun, and perfect for rocking out with the windows down. The last time we heard McGrath front and center of his own project, he was tripping the light psychedelic with Clouds. While there are certainly some sonic similarities with that band (especially the final EP, “B Chuggas May Be Logging”), Nomad Stones is even more stripped down and straightforward.
Lest you think that description is somehow a backhanded compliment, it’s not. Look, I love concept albums and hour-long metal symphonies as much as the next music nerd, but there’s a time and a place for everything. In midst of all of that, Nomad Stones is a welcome breath of fresh air. There’s a old-school, snotty punk vibe woven into the fabric of the sound, paired a hint of the sneering humor and grime you get from the best noise rock.
Case in point? The first song, “Dead Batteries” is an ode to “alkaline sorcery,” while track two, “Dirty Boots and A Friend Named Goo” name checks John Fahey and Sonic Youth (and works in a reference to almost all of the latter’s albums). Things get a little more serious on “The Frugal Yankee,” with its concerns about the health of our planet:
Come to your sense, Planet past tense
Our home is coming close to expiring, our way of life is close to being over…
That sentiment is personalized even more in the album closer, “The Sandwich Police,” as it both celebrates the New England experience for the home crowd and mourns the way tourists ruin everything:
Let’s go to Sandwich and call the Sandwich Police,
Let’s go to Rope Beach and judge each other’s technique
Sunday washers and vacation’s complete, this summer traffic is only temporary…
In the end, I’m stoked that the music is flowing from Nomad Stones. These guys are clearly having a load of fun, so why not join them? And since they just formed last year, this goodness was spun together quickly. I’m already ready for more. Here’s hoping that their next album isn’t too far away.
– Jeremy Hunt