When it comes to being on top of shit, I am No. 1. (Er, No. 2?) In 2010, I wrote that Dove Hunter was writing and recording a new album, the follow-up to the Dallas/Fort Worth band’s haunting 2009 debut, The Southern Unknown.
Well, that was Twenty-Ten, because guitarist/vocalist Jayson Wortham, bassist Chad DeAtley, and drummer Quincy Holloway took a big ol’ break. After being kicked out of several intentionally makeshift recording spaces, including in the Stockyards, Dove Hunter ended up in an ancient Oak Cliff building that was once a studio. Finally, the guys could get some recording done. But after two years of intermittent writing and tracking, Wortham and company discovered that some crucial parts had been lost. Fuck it, the guys said, and they booked some time at The Echo Lab (Centro-matic, Midlake, Pinkish Black) in Denton with producer Justin Collins, who runs sound at Hailey’s Club, fronts Burntsienna Trio, and owns and operates Satisfactory Recording Studio. Released on Monday, Black Cloud Erupt Us, DeAtley said, is a neat manifestation of the past few years: “Recording at places and them not working out … we had fistfights between band members, broke up at one point, have had divorces, had a kid born, had a cancer scare, had parents die, y’know, and then the whole recording a thing for two years and then losing crucial parts of it –– it’s just been one thing after another.”
Black Cloud Erupt Us was one of several title options, but DeAtley said once he and his bandmates started recording the songs “for real,” Black Cloud was “in cement because we hopefully just came through this black cloud and this black cloud was necessary for us to make this album. Hopefully, people will like it.”
Well, anyone with any taste in music at all will like it. The laziest but perhaps most succinct way I can describe it is “R.E.M. channeling Physical Graffiti-era Led Zeppelin.” The R.E.M.-thing comes from the twinkling six-string interplay between Wortham and new addition Will Kapinos, a.k.a. singer-songwriter Dim Locator. “We needed something on top, and Will was a perfect fit,” DeAtley said. “We knew we needed more than the power trio. … We’ve always talked about Mick Taylor, a special guitar player that provides that icing, and that’s exactly what Will did, just came in and put the icing on top.”
Darkness always prevails. Even when Wortham is singing in his sweet, distant voice or his and Kapinos’ guitars are harmonizing over delicately chiming, brilliantine riffs, dread permeates every note. For some weird reason, Dove Hunter has a spooky Appalachian heart. There’s a little bit of “The Cuckoo Bird” and “White Summer/Black Mountainside” in every track, especially the rambling “Dream Catcher” and “One Foot on the Horizon.” Which, perhaps not coincidentally, are also two of the loudest tracks.
Dove Hunter will celebrate the release of Black Cloud Erupt Us with a performance on Saturday at Club Dada in Dallas with Def Rain and Eyes Wings and Many Other Things. DeAtley and company have no expectations other than crafting superb tunes, DeAtley said. “Man, at this point, [the future] is not really talked about. We’d like to keep on creating music. We’re more about recording music at this point than playing, but we would like to go on some short tours here and there. … We really do want to keep creating music as this foursome. We’re best friends, and it’s effortless when we get in a room and jam. Not that anyone wants to hear that, but it’s a lot of fun to play with these three other guys, for me, and I know they feel the same. We’re just at the age where we want to play music and have fun. Everything else is secondary.”
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