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The Caribbean, Cap Alan, Woodman/Earhart (free)

  • Mickey's Tavern 1524 Williamson Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)

DC band The Caribbean makes precise, richly layered pop. Info


For Washington, DC band The Caribbean, playing and writing "experimental pop" involves committing to something like a straightforward framework, anchored in Michael Kentoff's conversational, close-sounding vocal melodies and swaying guitar chords. What counts is that every decision made within and around that framework is deliberate. On "I Haven't Given Up Hoping," from 2014’s Moon Sickness, Kentoff sings his way around playfully ping-ponging hand claps, while a synth line ever so gently introduces a bit of harmonic tension to the song. Right before the band kicks into the bridge, there's a sound that might be a weird fricative from a sax, or the processed sound of a cable being plugged in somewhere, but it lasts all of two seconds and only recurs once, during the instrumental passage that closes out the song.

That's one instance of how The Caribbean plays the constraints of pop against the instinct to explore a variety of textures and sounds. The approach must take a great deal of restraint and very granular arranging, and the results are often simultaneously lush and minimalistic. The band's most recent single, "Vitamin Ship," starts with bright electric guitars that hint at an up-tempo number, but Matt Byars' rolling snare drum and Dave Jones' slow-building atmospheric synth and guitar lines usher it right into a realm of wistful psych. The Caribbean is planning another single this fall, and is working on a new full-length for release in early 2019. —Scott Gordon

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