I love stories about bands that begin with advertisements being answered. In the case of the Denver Colorado rock trio Creature Keeper guitarist Brandon Hewitt and drummer Joel Bordayo began jamming together after meeting through a Craigslist post back in 2015. They decided they had immediate chemistry and began to try to put together some songs and a band, initially finding bassist/saxophonist Jake Johnson, who would later leave the group. Hewitt and Bordayo soldiered on in his absence and eventually met vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Edward Pacieco in 2016 to make the group the three-piece they are currently.
From the outset the band wanted to focus on writing tight, good songs and to have those songs as taut as possible before even trying to record an album or do anything commercially. The product of all that hard work eventually became the five songs of their mildly ethereal and musically charismatic debut EP Casual Encounters which reminded me of some of my favorite indie acts of the last few years such as DIIV, Cloud Nothings and Real Estate among a vast horizon of others.
Casual Encounters is an album of escapism. Its guitars have a melodic and soothing drone to them; they are layered and shimmering like waves lapping onto a shore. The drums are shuttered and the cymbals don’t crash as much as they do radiate and dissipate existing only momentarily, much like a firework in the sky after it explodes.
As with all great mildly indie psychedelic rock albums of the last few years the songs on Casual Encounters tend to morph into one long song that is split up into different parts. We start with the slightly hard-edged opener “Threat of Fortune” a theatrical onslaught of both squealing and droning guitars padded with some fast-paced and fancy percussion and like a good student of this type of music Bordayo is not afraid to use every piece of his kit to get the desired effects needed to keep the time.
Next up we get the poppier constructs of “Tired Horses” with its falsetic “ooh’s” and cavernous interludes. “No Touching” becomes the highlight though with its slow pace to begin with which then picks up and pops up performing the formula with excellent results. Next we are treated to the mildly more experimental “Secret Chains” which at nearly six minutes of course brings with it a bit of the old jam session.
It wouldn’t surprise me that in the wake of Casual Encounters release and with the right bit of luck and a little touring that Creature Keeper could find their way onto an indie label and even find themselves getting a song written up by the likes of Stereogum or the like. Although they may be part of a genre that seems at times ready to burst Creature Keeper sound good enough to hold their own.
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