One of the pleasures of writing about music is that it’s opened my eyes and ears to artists I’d never heard of before. A month ago, names like Fake Tears, Leah Capelle, and EagleWolfSnake were meaningless to me. But leap forward to the present day, and now all three of those artists have a comfortably permanent spot in my phone’s memory, and not a day goes by that I don’t at least dip my toes into their musical oceans.
But now, there’s a new album on the horizon: Cape Snow, from a band sharing the same name has jumped into the ring, and it has a mean right hook. Cape Snow’s borderline obsessive focus on a singular musical style tints every track with a sense of déjà vu, but the album’s virtues outweigh its vices. It’s listenable and laid-back, and puts me in mind of reclining on a tropical beach, sipping a citrusy drink with a little paper umbrella inside it. Cape Snow won’t shatter your preconceptions of music as an art medium, but it’s perfect for chilling out on a lazy afternoon. But if you happen to be chilling out on a tropical beach with a citrusy drink containing a paper umbrella, all the better.
A huge part of what makes Cape Snow so relaxing is the steady and simple rhythmic patterns spread across each instrument. The drums are nice and gentle, without punching through the overall musical texture. Chords on the piano and guitar are similarly gentle and rhythmically straightforward, though that doesn’t mean the songs sound hollow. The guitar and piano don’t play the exact same parts, and mixing in melody with the piano chords, or a gentle strum of the guitar helps flesh out the flavor of Cape Snow’s sound. Along with drums, guitar, and piano; vocals, strings, and wind instruments all lend their rhythmic and tonal seasoning to the album. Every track sounds fuller than a stomach after Thanksgiving dinner, without becoming oppressively thick and heavy. Cape Snow does an excellent job of filling out their sound without sacrificing the calming aesthetics of their music.
By now, I expect that you’re wondering what I disliked about the album, and it all boils down to one word: sameness. You might’ve noticed that in my previous paragraph, I didn’t mention which song I was describing. Why? Because that description fits every track. Cape Snow is stylistically narrow, shooting for a single sound in every song. It’s a nice sound, but that doesn’t free Cape Snow from the shackles of repetitiveness.
If you’re wondering whether you should check out Cape Snow, here’s my advice: listen to one track, it doesn’t matter which. If you like what you hear, then keep on listening. But if you are turned off, Cape Snow may not be for you. It’s simply too repetitive for me to give it a universal recommendation, but if you are on the prowl for something laid-back, Cape Snow should fit the bill. The album’s sensation of sameness keeps any one track from standing out, but Cape Snow knows what they’re doing when it comes to calming and beautiful music. Repetitive or not, Cape Snow oozes lovely harmonies and severely listenable and enjoyable tunes. Find a comfortable chair or couch, curl up with Cape Snow, and prepare for an incomparably relaxing musical experience.
Image from Burst & Bloom Records