I’ve been meaning to write about Fresh Cherries From Yakima’s debut LP, Buttons For North Carolina for some time now, but it’s an elusive record to wrap your head around, a gnarled, slippery work that leaves you vainly groping for the proper adjectives. It’s an acoustic art record of ghostly, skeletal folk songs, sliced open occasionally by a thin blade of gurgling electronic static and fleeting, plaintive piano lines. It’s mood music, bad mood music, hissing shadows on warehouse walls, carrying an unsettling, serpentine slink in its rhythm. Martin’s lyrics are both clever and caustic, always steeped in a sense of longing, obsessed with scorned lovers and the boozy aftermath.

Buttons For North Caroline is the exact antithesis of easy listening. It’s concerned with exploring the weird fringes of sound. There’s a good chance you might not like it. Hell, I’m not even sure how much I like it. I couldn’t get through it until the fourth or fifth listen and to be perfectly honest, if some random unsigned Myspace singer/songwriter sent me this, I’d have turned it off after five minutes and deleted it from my hard drive (if I’d even listen at all). Of course, I couldn’t do that, Douglas Martin isn’t just a peer (his Fresh Cherries From Yakima is probably the best musician-run blog this side of John Darnielle’s Last Plane to Jakarta), but also a friend, as much as you can be having never actually met someone in real life. So yeah, conflict of interest, blah, blah, blah. I know.

But I’m glad I didn’t fling this into the digital ether. There’s something here. Songs that grate on first listen burrow their way into your head, lingering like bad dreams. They’re the antithesis of pop, but they aren’t jejeune, obnoxious caterwaulings from the Kimya Dawson school of song-writing either. There’s a grace and raw elegance to Martin’s words, a vivid sense of originality, and an unmistakable pain conveyed not through juvenile confessional, but from the whiskey-warped timbre of his thin, haunting voice that creaks and rattles like the weary foundation of a 200 year-old house. It’s more art than music and sure, that’s maybe the most pretentious I’ve ever written on this blog (doubtful), but there’s a grotesque beauty to Fresh Cherries From Yakima’s music that leaves me to believe that greater things are in store for Martin. Now if he’d only take off those silly ass neck scarves….

MP3: Fresh Cherries From Yakima-“Whiskey and Warhol”
MP3: Fresh¬†Cherries From Yakima-“Good Morning Stranger”

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