Caddywhompus Record Release with Brother/Ghost, Fatter Than Albert and Sun Hotel
9 p.m. Friday, April 23
Mother-in-Law Lounge, 1500 N. Claiborne Ave., 947-1078; www.k-doe.com
Caddywhompus is a noise-pop duo consisting of Loyola students and recent Houston transplants Chris Rehm, who sings and plays guitar, and Sean Hart, who sings and plays drums. But anyone who's been to a Caddywhompus show knows there is a third member of the band, one that looms just as large — literally and figuratively — as Rehm and Hart. It's the hulking, human-sized tower of gear stacked on the back of the stage, teetering with every hit of Hart's kick drum like a totem pole summoned angrily to life.
"It's never fallen," says Rehm, 19, and he sounds amazed by the fact. Asked for a rundown of the amplifier Voltron, the audio engineer by default obliges. "There's a PA head; two speakers; a Marshall combo amp that the head broke off of, so I use it as a cabinet; a Fender Princeton guitar combo amp. ... Basically a smorgasbord of really shitty things, but put together to be loud enough so you forget that it's shitty."
Anyone who's been to a show also knows that, aside from those drum hits, treble is Caddywhompus' forte. In the band's undying theories to increase its low end, Rehm replaced the PA monitor with a bass amp. "We're completely relying on the fact that when things are loud, no matter how trebly they are, bass is enhanced," he says, laughing.
But ear-bleeding volume is only one aspect of the Caddywhompus experience. There is technical proficiency — a trait both members possess in excess — and something less tangible, an apparent ease at balancing experimentation and pop structure that's rare in career songwriters, let alone a couple of college underclassmen self-recording their second suite of songs in a shared Fountainbleau Storage practice space.
This weekend at the Mother-in-Law Lounge, those tracks — a meld of the full-throttle melancholy melodies of San Francisco duo Dodos and the sonic-pinball wizardry of early Animal Collective — get their first official release in the form of a vinyl pressing by local punk rock imprint Community Records. Remainder follows last year's EPs, which comprised a four-song digital download from the band's Web site — in succession, the first four they wrote as Caddywhompus — and a split cassette of extra compositions that "weren't exactly the direction we wanted to go in as a band," Rehm says.
"This album's a lot more rock 'n' roll than the second half of EPs. Some of those songs are really poppy, sugary. This one's a little more of a serious sound — although our name is Caddywhompus and we're a guitar/drum duo, and I have a gigantic amp that's taller than me," he acknowledges. "There's only so serious you can take us."
For the analog challenged (or the cheap), a digital version of the album will be available free May 11 on Community's Web site www.communityrecords.org. It's a nice gesture for the fans, albeit one that seems to belie Rehm and Hart's recording industry majors: Shouldn't you be charging for something this good? Rehm's answer illustrates a clear-eyed strategy by a new band confident in the quality of its output — and a canny understanding of where the music business is moving.
"I think we're going to have a donate button. It doesn't cost us anything to give them a file, so why charge? As much as it's nice to make money off of digital downloads, if anybody wants to get any album, they just type the name and MegaUpload or MediaFire is the first thing.
"There's really no getting around it anymore," he shrugs. "We want you to have this, so take it."