by Alexus Davis
New Orleans noise-pop outfit Caddywhompus are perhaps the purest manifestation of a sonic wild rumpus. The duo, comprised of Chris Rehm and Sean Hart, have been at the top of this reviewer’s list since their stellar 2011 EP, The Weight. In fact, I nearly threw a tantrum after having missed them by the week I was away on holiday while they toured in Scotland, where I currently reside. The last time I caught the band was on a night in Brooklyn’s Silent Barn, where the sound seemingly bounced and reverbed off every person huddled in the space. Needless to say, I was eager to listen to Odd Hours -- if there is one thing I have come to learn about Caddywhompus, it is that it is best to consider their music in a nearly phenomenological metric: joy, though sound, moving in space.
Caddywhompus, while typically labeled as noise-pop, assuredly extend the reach of the genre label. Caddywhompus revel their nature: with each track, Pandora’s box opens, and what we experience next is an abundance of movement. Variation is measured in throws and bounces; the camera is always moving, and the listener is both a part of the burst and watching from a distance. Odd Hours is thoughtful arrangement at its most lush. Standout tracks include “Splinter,” “Ferment,” “Choir,” and “Waiting Room.” Rehm’s lyrical longing hold up against the resonant sonic structure that I typically associate with the act. It is only fitting Odd Hours should have a track called “Choir,” as polyphony seems to be a welcome technique of the two-piece- they thrive on it. “Choir” is perhaps, the strongest track on Odd Hours. It is filled and rounded by varying sonic dynamics while busy riffing acts as a thread throughout. As someone who previously heard the demo version Caddywhompus shared in 2014, I can attest that its cacophonous entropy was only enhanced through mastering and final production. In this version, there seems to be slightly less reliance on Rehm’s well-renown falsetto -- to no ultimate loss.
“Splinter” is reminiscent of early Caddywhompus (Remainder, 2010). It progresses in full, demarcated motions between the fully instrumental and the sparkling moments of noisy, computer-inspired effect (“In Ways” ends on a similar note, melting from distortion into silence). “Ferment” serves as a tonal bridge from one movement of the album, into the next. It seems to serve as a track between movements of the album; after this instrumental piece, Caddywhompus ushers the listener into another dispensation. This is where I found the strongest elements of well-rounded pop. “Waiting Room:”- structured, but soaring -- nearly lulls with its structured pop outline until Rehm sings a falsetto rocket to the moon, or quite possibly past it. Such is thematic throughout Odd Hours: a smudgy, rococo wilderness is heightened and disturbed by a single stroke of red; Rehm’s vocals do no less than soar beyond the storyboard of the song’s construction itself – and indeed, his guitar work is varied and rich. Hart’s incredibly skilled percussion breathes and attacks without relenting, instead always telling it’s own tale.
As a band, Caddywhompus are particularly skilled in nuance; Odd Hours serves as a valiant, and ultimately successful effort. On Odd Hours, Caddywhompus fashion sound that is responsive and bigger than its prior body. This record is varied and dynamic; even in brief moments of dissonance, its sonic and lyrical nuance surround the most important of all subjects: what it means to be alive. If you’re listening, it will teach you.