Thursday, Aug. 22 — There are a ton of reference points on Lights and Caves’ debut EP “In Satori” from Radiohead, Manchester Orchestra, Coldplay, The Beatles and even another Lansing band.
Lights and Caves releases “In Satori” as part of a double album release Saturday at The Loft, 414 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing. Way To Fall, another Lansing band, is also releasing a new, as-yet-untitled album.
Lights and Caves came into being in Lansing last year, founded by Dillon Gorden (vocals/guitar), Evan Rudman (drums/vocals) and Stefan Wiseman (bass/vocals). Second guitarist and vocalist Jason Marr joined more recently.
Marr, who is also the singer for Lansing indie band Elliot Street Lunatic, helped produce the new EP in a Chicago studio and was asked to become a full-fledged member.
The best way to spelunk the band’s sound is to grab a light and go through the cave of influences, chamber by chamber, with the new EP as a guide. The opener, “Manchy,” gives a nod to Atlanta's Manchester Orchestra, with rocking but polished guitar chords mixed with pounding drums that proclaim the music’s danceability in no uncertain terms.
“In Satori” recalls Radiohead's “Reckoner,” with a finger-picked clean guitar countering another, Ebow-laden guitar that calmly washes over a light snare-dominated beat. It all combines to hold Gorden's Thom-Yorke-esque falsetto to Earth.
The same Radiohead influence is evident on “Run,” but with a lot more ambiance and spaciousness. Marr's influence on this band is pretty obvious; the opening of “Tragedy” recalls ESL's own song “Maps” from their second album “Ghost Town Lullabies.” Some of his guitar tones here sound straight out of ESL's soundworld.
That’s not a bad thing, but this is a new band for him and something a little more adventurous ought to have come of it.
Despite the obvious influences, the record has a lot going for it. The drumming pulls you in; it's tight, playful and brings out some punching, rocking moments too, especially on the opening song.
The EP's lead single, “Carry Me Home,” is a bit different than the rest. It’s underpinned by multiple guitar layers (acoustic guitar along with two guitars playing arpeggio and power chords parts) and a great backbeat-heavy drum beat, with subtly emotive vocals that guide the song forward. It's pretty straightforward compared to the other songs, especially the quieter moments on the title track, which delve a bit deeper into the band's creative ideas and demand more from the listener.
The EP's last song, “To the Solipsist,” is also its most adventurous. The music moves seamlessly from very ambient beginnings to quite different terrain — a spacey R&B punctuated with rocking, guitar-heavy moments.
The last half of the song features a great, anthemic rush of high hat and snare, coupled with fast, repeating guitar parts and power chords, all building toward a great finale of catchy single note guitar picking and soaring harmonies. The result is very infectious.
That might be the best thing about Lights and Caves: You can catch them combining obvious influences, but all the band's members bring a unique, catchy and passionate energy that helps you to forget that. The cave of musical influences is endless, but this band has its own light to carry.
Also performing at The Loft Saturday are Lansing's Small Parks and Grand Rapids band Good Day, Good Sir. Tickets are $10 and doors are at 7 p.m. For more information, visit Fusionshows.com.