Devoted fans will recognize "Cabinessence" as the title of a Beach Boys song from their 1969 album 20/20. However, washing ashore from the colder waves of the Pacific Northwest is a relatively new indie quintet that bears the same name. The group Cabinessence recently released their second full-length album, Naked Friends (Spark & Shine) in which co-front men Jacob Arnold and Nathan Maricle bare it all in their retro yet contemporary compilation of warm harmonies and sci-fi instrumentals.
Self-described as "space-hippie country" musicians, Cabinessence's style is so varied that it seems to defy categorization, even with their own words. Genre fusion can be risky and sometimes ill-advised, but Cabinessence is fearless with experimentation. In "Get Down," the woo-woo-woo-woos and nah-nah-nah-nahs, are obvious nods to the likes of Brian Wilson and company, but repetitive lyrics give way to an interesting and discordant finish. Similarly, "Consider the Source" concludes with a cluster of childlike giggles that left me wondering if I had missed a joke.
Frequent application of steel guitar and angelic falsettos suggest a vinyl vintage, but sophisticated mixing reminds us that these are not AM radio tunes. They probably aren't FM radio tunes, either, but they'll keep listeners guessing all the way through the dozen songs on Naked Friends. On the flip side, dedicated listening to this album is a little overwhelming. It might do better with the distractions and libations of an outdoor summer concert.
Listen to Naked Friends here.