Robber's Roost / Crow Cavalier - Home Split (Cover Artwork)

Robber's Roost / Crow Cavalier

Home Split (2019)


I pride myself in being a “digger”. Long gone are the days where the only way to find music is to dig through mounds of CDs looking for cool cover art, or a picture of a band wearing a shirt of a band you like. I still enjoy the hunt, though these days its going through the “Fans also like” section of Spotify, or some similar means. All too often I find myself clicking on a band I’ve never heard of, then looking at their “Fans also like”, then picking a random one, and going at it again. Sometimes I’ve been through nine or ten layers before I find something that actually resonates with me, but when I do, I end up with gold. This split released on April 21st of this year may have taken seventy hours of “digging”, but the short four song EP was well worth the dig.

I had heard of Robber’s Roost before, and never really enjoyed a lot of what I heard, but I found this EP through a song from the second band, Crow Cavalier, and then decided to give the EP a spin from the top. Robber’s Roost leads off Home Split with “These Walls”. It’s not intricate or even outrageously original. A simple riff with the only non-vocal instrument, an acoustic guitar, with dueling vocals which act as the other instruments. The female vocalist weaves in and out of the grittier male’s vocals, and delivers a catchy little tune, reminiscent of the southern rock legends like Stevie Ray Vaughn, but with a punk edge.

Their second track “The Road Ahead” takes it up a notch, delivering an even catchier tune with a perfect rhythm (despite lacking a rhythm section), and the female vocalist, Wren or Wrenegade, draws the listener in with lyrics like “Why’d you stop and stare / It’s not my underwear”. Nothing remarkable, yet infectious. I caught myself trying to sing along, which is near impossible as both singers are singing their own lyrics atop each other, which could end up annoying, but it works. The guitars remain fairly simplistic, but it became impossible to not bob my head in enjoyment each time I listened. This pair won’t ascend to the top of my favorite bands, but I have to say they produced a pair of very pleasing tunes to start an EP, which I was only listening to for the second band.

When the third track starts, it becomes very clear that this is not Robber’s Roost. The first 2 seconds erupt with manic instrumentation, followed shortly by a gritty punk singer. “Catalyst” is the epitome of “Thrashgrass”. It's hard to make out each instrument that is being used, but there is definitely banjo, guitar, bass or gut bucket, and maybe an accordian, with some percussion, and I may only be scratching the surface. It’s fast, intense, a bit overbearing, and all in the best possible way imaginable. Then, three quarters into the track, it slows down and the lyrics become the object of focus, and as quickly as it slowed, it blasts back into the mchaos that had me captivated from the start. Imagine Gogol Bordello meets Rollins’ Black Flag with vocals conjuring Mischief Brew.

The final track starts a bit slower, and the fiddle sets the melodic tone for “108 Gilbert Street”. We’re treated to a second vocalist, and the two trade off varying degrees of raspy lyrics in a much more traditional folk punk tune. I can’t help but make the comparison back to Mischief Brew, and if the vocals weren’t so different, it could have easily passed as lost demo of the late Erik Petersen.

While the third track definitely hooked me, it was this display of intelligent songwriting in the final track that led me to go dig through the band’s entire discography. Anyone can get lucky with a crazed, chaotic blend of traditional folk instruments and make one captivating song, but they were able to prove that each of the musicians actually has talent, and the songwriter didn’t accidentally make this masterpiece, but orchestrated it. I will definitely be on the lookout for anything else these guys put out. Despite my obvious obsession with the latter band, I want to be clear that Robber’s Roost put together a very admirable beginning to the EP, but it paled in comparison to the brilliance of the second half.