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Preview: Heather French Henry and Caleb McCoach at Indy CD & Vinyl on April 5
Posted April 02, 2014 by Taylor Peters
WRITTEN BY
Taylor Peters
ON
April 02, 2014

 

So, okay, everyone raise your hand if you made it last month's Indy CD & Vinyl/ MFT collaborative event with Pnature Walk and The Cowboys. Since this is the internet and I have no way of confirming whether or not you just raised your hand or not, I'm just going to assume that your hand shot right up and that you're eagerly awaiting details about the next Indy CD & Vinyl/ MFT collaborative event. Well, the wait is over, because that event is happening THIS VERY SATURDAY. 

 

That's right, friend, you read those caps-locked words above correctly: there is yet another event this Saturday, April 5th, happening at Indy CD & Vinyl, and sponsored by both Musical Family Tree and SmallBox. This time the whole deal is leaning a little more in the "folks with acoustic guitars" direction this time, however, featuring Bloomington's Heather French Henry and Indianapolis' Caleb McCoach. And even better, since the whole deal kicks off at 6pm and will be done promptly at 9pm, you can still go across the street and see Against Me! if you want (or, if you want to carpool with me, we can zoom out of there right quick and still probably get up to Lafayette in time to see Wolf Eyes and TV Ghost at Foam City). Here's a link to the Facebook event, if you're in to that sort of thing. 

 

 

On their latest full-length Safari Etiquette, HFH present a work that's carefully considered but not over-precious. With tracks like the electro-inflected "New Tribes," to the slow burn of "The Great Society," the songs on Safari Etiquette are clearly the product of a band who has spent a substantial amount of time working out precisely how to serve their songs from the production angle. And from the looping syncopation of Andy Beargie's drumming, to vocalist Abby Miller's operatic wailing, Heather French Henry have got a sound all their own on lock down. This of course, doesn't even begin to cover the band's capacity for lyrical story telling, which wraps all this expert production and song-craft into tight, compelling narratives. 

 

 

When I interivewed them back in February, they said they were a little concerned about how to translate all this careful sonic consideration into a live setting. After seeing them last Friday at Westgate, I have a bit of hard time believing it was ever an issue, though. The locktight roil of the rhythm section support almost fully textural guitar work and Miller and Charlie Gardner's dual vocals. And Miller, for her part, uses her voice more often as an instrument, adding harmonic layers as the band swells to and fro. It is remarkable, and not to be missed. 

 

 

On his 2013 full-length Songs From an Empy Shore, Caleb McCoach was all quiet minimalism. Many of the tracks consisted of just McCoach's voice, an acoustic guitar, and the occasional soft swish of percussion. And his voice, his singing, that's the thing that's gluing the whole deal together. Because anyone can fake the soft, pained, emotive voice thing. You know, throw in a crack and a shake or two here and there, change octaves when you get to the important part, and so on. Few people--McCoach is one of them--can actually sell the thing, can actually convey a real vocal tenderness without coming across forced. McCoach does it and he does it subtly, with unadorned and almost conversational phrasing. He doesn't need to stamp and scream and crack and shake. The whisper of "Just today I found out that the world was ending" on "Need Him So Badly" gathers behind it an enviable depth with nothing but softness. 

 

 

And, this Saturday, McCoach will arrive with full band in tow. That means these sometimes shaggy, humble songs are going to get stretched at the seams a little bit. Sure McCoach doesn't need to stamp and scream, but the openness of his songwriting makes a rocking interpretation as easily imagined as a restrained one. Take for instance Songs From an Empty Shore closer "Seaside Shore," which on the album is all powerful restraint. It could just as easily whip itself into a sort of plaintive fury, hammering away that refrain of "Lord I'm comin' home."

 

And look, I'm no wizard, so I don't know which way McCoach et al. will go on Saturday, and I don't even know that they'll play "Seaside Shore." What I do know, however, is that you'd have to be straight up clowning to miss out on this chance to see Heather French Henry and Caleb McCoach share a stage. You don't want to be called a clown by someone writing articles about music on the internet do you? Well then you better be there. 

 

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