Probably five years ago, a standard yellow padded envelope came across my desk with an elaborate predatory bird drawn on it in red permanent marker. I liked the drawing so much that I kept the envelope and still have it. Of course, it helped that Caltrop‘s 2006 demo, which was contained inside, was killer. The band struck a dirty blues-based sludgy note without going overboard in terms of the aggression, and I still take out that demo every now and then and listen to it.
I even included a track in the all-Southern podcast a couple months back, if you want proof.
In the intervening years between then and now, the Chapel Hill, North Carolina, four-piece released their first full-length, World Class, through local imprint Holidays for Quince Records. That was 2008, and though I don’t really have any excuse for doing so, I completely missed the boat on the record. Hey, it happens.
I had planned on picking up World Class when Caltrop played Webster Hall in NYC with Batillus and Hull as the two closed out their tour together at the end of last month, but real life intervened in the form of homework and I didn’t get there. Nonetheless, enough was enough when it came to not owning the album. I dialed up Caltrop‘s website to see if they had a copy for sale, and when they didn’t, I went next to the label. Lo and behold, the package came in Wednesday’s mail.
The sweet Hendrixian fuzz of “Bloodroot” makes World Class worth the $12 I paid for it anyway, but there’s something humble about the vocals too. It’s the same quality that made Pennsylvania‘s Pearls and Brass such a delight to listen to when they were together. It’s folkish and rural, swampy and humid-sounding, but still edgy and better suited to the music than you might think. There’s no pretense in what Caltrop does to being sludge, or stoner, or whatever. They just play the heavy tones they want to hear. That comes through on World Class, and so, the record every bit lives up to its name.
Only shame about the whole thing is that I’m three years late on the album, but if you head over to the Caltrop page on Facebook, it looks like they recently did some recording, so maybe I’ll get my chance to be more timely sometime before 2011′s out. Either way, now that I know what I’ve been missing, I’ll be sure it doesn’t happen again.
Tags: Caltrop, Chapel Hill, Holidays for Quince, North Carolina