Gig Seeker Pro


Columbia, Missouri, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | INDIE

Columbia, Missouri, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Rock Shoegaze




"Cantalouper Keeps Rock Weird"

Thursday, May 7, 2015 at 2:00 pm
The members of Cantalouper are children of an age in which weird could still be mainstream in music.

The Columbia quartet seems determined to draw listeners back to those days on its second LP, “Reproduction.” The album, one of the most original local releases of the young year, brings together the bedhead melodies of 1990s alt-rock and the moody, jangling guitars of ’80s post-punk, washing the whole sound in warm baths of ambient noise.

Cantalouper credits much of its forward motion to David Bazan, the Pedro the Lion brainchild and singer-songwriter who helped record and mix the band’s first EP after it got a tape of its early work into his hands at a show. Hints of the heart of darkness that beats within many of Bazan’s songs are present here — and the band cites some of his peers, including Starflyer 59, as influences — but Cantalouper pursues a more vibrating, melodically focused sort of indie rock. This time out, the band puts part of its fate in the hands of a man Bazan once lyrically declared complete trust in: The record was mastered by singer-songwriter and frequent Bazan collaborator T.W. Walsh.

“Parking Lot” opens the album with tuneful, driving guitars that live in the spaces between Pedro the Lion and Jimmy Eat World; Levi Dolan’s craggy vocals lend a sense of intrigue to a snappy but pleading melody. The band behind him finds a sense of groove and momentum, and synth lines swirl around, orbiting the whole.

From there, “Katydid” combines the crisp jangle of ’60s rock with more ominous, overdriven guitar tones. Dolan again sells a melody that would seem perfectly buoyant if delivered by a higher voice but gains a sense of gravity and contemplation when colored by his darker instrument.

“Kindergarten” opens with Andrew Dolan’s airy, astral synths before settling into a slow guitar chug. The song simmers and churns before rolling to a beautiful boil. “Stuffed Animals” finds Levi Dolan dropping some rock ’n’ roll syllables (“Ba ba ba”) over another whipped-up blend of guitars.

The record’s second half gets darker, weirder and roomier as it goes. That isn’t a bad thing — the band is able to explore different, often compelling colors — but some of the material doesn’t feel as immediately potent, melodically or rhythmically. It is more complex, more immersive.

Later highlights include “Crybaby,” which takes its shape from Chuck Parzych III’s drums and guitars that split the difference between The Cure and heavier bands; the song grows more chaotic as it goes.

“These Little Deaths” fleshes out The Cure vibe, sounding like a more unsettled “Pictures of You.” A gradual build pays off when Levi Dolan hits a vocal high, a point of release that resonates through the rest of the song and record. Elsewhere, “You Have to Find Your Better Half” is reminiscent of Bazan’s work with crisper guitars.

“Reproduction” is a ponderous record, but it also packs in enough pop sensibility to lift its own emotional burden and not lay it on the listener. Cantalouper has something on its hands here that is just weird enough to work wonders.

“Reproduction” was recorded by the band at multiple locations in and around Columbia. Brett Siler mixed the album; Walsh mastered it.

© 2015 Columbia Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. - Columbia Daily Tribune

"Cantalouper - Reproduction"

Ian Curtis and Joy Division enjoy a legacy that bands continue to explore. Sometimes it's difficult to say what touched people so deeply and profoundly about Curtis, perhaps his lyrics and the band's intensely-atmospheric music, even the personal struggles which led to his suicide? The darker elements often rise to the surface, but sometimes people forget it was very much a struggle of life and death, epitomized in the lyrics of a song like Joy Division's 'Dead Souls'.

There's more than a hint of this on Cantalouper's latest album Reproduction. 'These Little Deaths' conveys the sort of dark imagery characteristic of Joy Division, especially with its metronomic beat and melodic bass. Lyricist Levi Dolan sings about the tragedy of a child's death as he whips himself up into a frenzy: “So let's speak in majestic tones/of this desire that burns our bones/but not for being satisfied/It's just to keep us crucified.” 'Crybaby' follows a similar mood and intensity, tales of a bully, with powerful instrumentation redolent of The Cure's darker side or Joy Division's 'Transmission'.

But the music of the Columbia Montana-based band's sophomore (the follow-up to Kramer-produced Mandrakes in 2009) is more nuanced. The poppy-sounding 'Stuffed Animals' is a reverie to the images of children storybooks and the blurry lines between language and childhood experience, the song set to an endearing singalong patter. Upbeat and melodic opener 'Parking Lot' relates some of the trials of early sexual encounters and the sensitivities of adolescence in a light-hearted way. Also with neat hooks, 'Katydid' is a recollection of childhood experiences we mistakenly try to reproduce as adults. The idea of hide and seek contained in the lyrics is a powerful metaphor. When his eyes are open, Katy has disappeared only to re-appear in the school year books some time later.

Powerful dark imagery inevitably pervades Reproduction, futile to fight it. Dolan sings about putting the flowers by the grave of a loved one in '1986' and his eyes go all watery as he tries to read a postcard he's brought. Sleepyhead' has that cloying mellotron sound that Joy Division used on 'Decades', the singer's rather dirgy voice wavering unsteadily as he sings: “Go go to sleep, the morning will come/But first it's time for nightmares.”

Sometimes you think you've got a handle on Dolan's lyrics, but then he hands you something oblique or philosophical. A lot of thought goes behind the words. Reproduction's central message seems to be contained in the album's closing song 'All Grown Up', with the singer recounting some of the dangers of looking back and ritualizing the things that made us happy when we were kids. The message resonates: it's the looking in the mirror and noticing who we've become so we can move on with our lives. Although Ian Curtis wasn't able to do that, his words memorialize his existence and keep tugging away at our consciousness:

“Someone take these dreams away,
That point me to another day,
A duel of personalities,
That stretch all true realities.
That keep calling me...”
(Joy Division – Dead Souls)

-Matthew Haddrill - Tasty Fanzine (UK)

"Download: Cantalouper - Katydid"

Some 20 years too late, “Katydid,” the new single from Missouri’s Cantalouper, would have been an MTV and pop radio staple alongside Nada Surf and Weezer. It’s sad how times have changed.

Getting their start with help from David Bazan, the Columbia quartet’s 2009 debut LP, Mandrakes, was mixed and mastered by Kramer (Mecca Normal, Low). Now, the band is crowdfunding the release of its sophomore album, Reproduction. Recorded in various bedrooms, a shed, a theater, an aquarium, and outdoors, Reproduction will be released on vinyl and digital formats 8 May.

Cantalouper will be hitting the road in April for an acoustic tour with Nashville’s Spoken Nerd. Dates here.

Stream/download “Katydid” below and pre-order Reproduction via Indiegogo.

-Magearwig - Bucket Full of Nails

"Premiere "Katydid" by Cantalouper"

Today we’re excited to debut “Katydid,” the new video from Columbia, MO. band Cantalouper. The song is from Cantalouper’s second LP, Reproduction, was recorded in various bedrooms, a shed, a theater, an aquarium, and outdoors around the band’s hometown.

“Katydid” recalls the great indie guitar rock bands of the late 90s with intriguing vocals reminiscent of David Bazan, who oddly enough helped the band finished its debut in his home studio. - Nada Mucho

"Crate-Digging: Cantalouper - Reproduction"

(self-released, 2015)

One thing I always look for when I’m trying to discover new music: how does this music make me feel? I could pass on the most talented musician in the world if the music doesn’t evoke any emotional response (see: John Coltrane). Emotions are important to my listening experience; more than skill; maybe even more than creativity.

Well, right from the beginning of Cantalouper’s Reproduction, I could tell I would like it. The opening song (“Parking Lot”) is a painful story about an incredibly awkward early brush with sex, told casually but with panicked undertones that denote a longing – or a burning need – to be understood.

Along with “Parking Lot,” we’ve got songs with titles such as “1986” and “All Grown Up”; I think it’s pretty clear that songwriter Levi Dolan has got the past on his mind for the majority of this LP. And why not? What stirs up more emotion than the memories of all those wonderful, tragic, and painful events of our youth?

There are resentful notes of lost innocence throughout the album, most notably for me in “White Noise,” a song about finding God – or the lack thereof, in this songwriter’s case – in the midst of tragedy. Take a sample of these crazy good lyrics: “My cartoon sheets wore out too fast, and with them went my reverence; Requests I made were word-for-word the same night that their bodies burned.”

Powerful stuff from Dolan. I love a good emotionally raw song, and Reproduction is full to bursting with them. A few of my other faves on the record are “Katydid” and “You Have to Find Your Better Half.”

The lyrics’ frankness and beauty remind me of two of my favorite lyricists: Joel McCrea and Mark Kozelek. One would be tempted to call the lyrics mopey, but they’re not; they’re more intelligent than that. There’s a calculated and self-aware bitterness behind Dolan’s words that your average mopey teen could never hope to put into words.

As for the music itself, it’s very listenable. Indie rock; shoe-gazey vibe. Pedro the Lion, Frightened Rabbit, maybe a hint of Noah and the Whale, etc. The singer’s voice struck me as odd and niche at first, but as I listened to the songs and settled into the vibe, I realized the vocal style fit perfectly with the tone of the band.

So there you go: Cantalouper. Easily worth a listen, and if you feel it’s worth it, go with your gut and check out the lovely LP. When you first bend your ear to this fascinating album, I urge you to do so with a lyric sheet open in front of you, so that you can get the full effect as you listen.

RIYL: Pedro the Lion, Frightened Rabbit, Mark Kozelek - Critical Masses


Drool EP  (2008)
Mandrakes LP (2009)
Reproduction LP (2015)



Cantalouper started when David Bazan (Pedro the Lion/Headphones/Overseas) helped complete their first EP (Drool) at his home studio, after hearing a tape of four track recordings handed to him at a Pedro the Lion show. Cantalouper's first full-length album, Mandrakes, was mixed and mastered by Kramer, who has produced records for bands like Low and Galaxie 500. Aside from nineties indie rock, Cantalouper's work references shoegaze and new wave music the most.  They have toured regularly for the past five years throughout the Midwest.  Cantalouper's second LP, Reproduction, was recorded in various bedrooms, a shed, a theater, an aquarium, and outdoors around the band's hometown of Columbia, MO.  Released in May 2015, it is now available on vinyl and digital download.  

Levi Dolan / vocals, guitar

Chuck Parzych III / drums

Andrew Dolan / keyboard

Josh Reid / bass

Band Members