Austin-via-Alabama songwriter Caroline Sallee aka Caroline Says has premiered her second album, No Fool Like An Old Fool, via Stereogum prior to its release Friday, 16 March on Western Vinyl, writing; “[Caroline Says] exists in a sonic universe nearby Yo La Tengo’s quieter, more contemplative work, Grizzly Bear’s most placid lullabies, the Clientele’s sighing twilight guitar balladry, My Morning Jacket’s languid Americana, and Broadcast’s futurist metropolitan psych.”
Sallee recorded No Fool Like An Old Fool while simultaneously working three jobs – finding the time was no easy task and her living situation didn’t make it any easier. Caroline explains, “I lived in a disgusting mildewed basement apartment that was like living in a gross cave. My landlords were a crazy old couple that lived above me and it was like living inside of a drum. I could hear their footsteps and their dog’s footsteps and a lot of the time it just sounded like they were throwing things on their floor. It was so hard to find a perfectly quiet time to record. I recorded all my loud stuff (amped guitar, drums) during the day and had to do quieter stuff, like vocals, late at night.” The hurdles she navigated to record naturally led to ad hoc recording techniques, and endless sonic experimentation, often leading to her use of the computer as an instrument. She remarks, “I did a lot of recording in a state of exhaustion from working so much. I was so worn down that these songs were able to just come through.”
The first few notes of the Daniel Rossen-esque opener “First Song” dutifully establishes the surreal and slightly tragic tone of longing maintained throughout the album. The curiously upturning melodies ride out on a rich ambient texture before “Sweet Home Alabama” cuts the fog with a crackling 60’s soul loop that’s charming and catchy enough to induce a cathartic laugh from the listener. The brightness fades with the frosty and propulsive “A Good Thief Steals Clean,” which features lyrics inspired by the 1971 film ‘Panic in Needle Park’ and the idea of being in love with a heroin addict. “I tend to write from the perspectives of characters in dark situations, even though my songs may sound bright,” Sallee notes of her alluring juxtaposition of sunny production and grim lyrics. She employs this dynamic again on “Rip Off,” a frenetically percussive song with lyrics inspired by an NPR story about a young Iraqi man who was killed in an ISIS bombing just before moving to New York City to become a professional dancer. Inspired by Terrence Malick’s ‘Badlands’ and Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska, the song “Black Hole” features multi-voice harmonies sung from the perspective of 50’s spree killer Charles Starkweather.
No Fool Like An Old Fool is a fine soundtrack for a kind of liminal state… honest in its weariness, glad to be done with the day, carrying itself into tomorrow with a bleary-eyed sense of wonder and hope for the future.
03/10 – Austin, TX @ Hotel Vegas (8p, SX Soundcheck)
03/11 – Austin, TX @ Hotel Vegas (9p, Hot Burrito Boogie)
03/13 – Austin, TX @ Cheer Up Charlie’s (12:45p, Gorilla vs. Bear/Winspear)
03/13 – Austin, TX @ The Volstead at Hotel Vegas (8:30p, ATH vs. SOTO Showdown)
03/16 – Austin, TX @ Buffalo Billiards (4p, 101x)
03/16 – Austin, TX @ Schulz Beer (7:30p, Austin Monthly)