The five-piece A Caesar Holiday offer up six tracks totaling forty-five minutes on their self-titled debut release. Featuring the combined instrumentation of violin, dual guitars, bass, drums, and accordion the Indianapolis group offer moody and mostly instrumental music falling somewhere between prog and post-rock.
The album is at its strongest in the tracks featuring the violin work of Eison, most notably "Let Bygones" and "The Narcissist." The violin separates it from many similar sounding contemporaries and adds a fluid soundscape to fill out the hypnotic rhythm section.
The album starts out with "A Little Bird Told Me," an unspectacular track that sets the tone for the rest of the record. It utilizes a slow crescendo post-rock structure until building into a more repetitive rock 'n roll arrangement. The band mixes in some Battles-style cartoony tone jumps and a countrified violin.
The record quickly shifts gears on the next track, "Let Bygones," which begins with a weeping violin that transmits a rainy day soundtrack vibe. The peaceful harmony develops over calm vocals and espouses a warm but disconnected feeling.
"Snoopy Takes the Cake" is a fair representation of the band: it has a strong Red Sparrowes sound, utilizing textured guitars that suck you in but spit you back out before you're lulled to sleep. The four-and-a-half-minute song satisfies, at times reminding me of Midnight Cowboy theme, but it doesn't set itself apart from other bands. Without a violin melody, the band sounds rather average and uninteresting. The same can be said of "Post-Coital Coffee" and the sixteen-minute "Your Very Own Ocean." There are sporadic vocals, often soft-sung male-female harmonies from Eison and guitarist Masbaum. The vocals are soothing and do not interrupt the instrumental flow. Masbaums voice reminds me of Minneapoliss A Whisper in the Noise.
"The Narcissist" is another violin-led song, and a standout amongst the six tracks. Stylistically, it very much parallels "Let Bygones," but with a faster, more rock 'n roll tempo. When the tension builds, it brings post-rock to mind but the band shows more interest in concise tempo changes than composing an epic full of incremental transitions.
The CD comes in a hard cardboard sleeve with a nice layout. However, the script font is nearly unreadable and I had to pull song titles off the promo sheet for reference. I have absolutely no idea what the inner liner notes say.
A Caesar Holiday is a promising band with unique instrumentation and a variety of moody soundscapes. However, when more common instruments take the focus, the band becomes rather average. When they push the violin to the forefront, the band has appeal.
7.0 / 10
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