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(Bakery Outlet; US: 21 Jun 2011; UK: Import)


Witches is a band from Athens, Georgia, which means that you can break out the R.E.M. comparisons, especially since the band employs a similar sort of jaunty, jangly pop in their songcraft. However, Witches goes much further than being an R.E.M. clone. They have a country rock-infused sensibility that recalls the work of early Bettie Serveert or even Lone Justice, and they’re catchy to boot. However, the band’s real secret weapon is lead singer Cara Beth Satalino, who is utterly captivating as she caterwauls her way through the group’s debut album, Forever. Witches’ music, as a result, is simply fascinating, and so spryly upbeat and toe-tapping that you’ll wind up wishing the album was more than just 10 songs long.

There are other musical touchstones that Witches’ sound harks back to. You can hear a nick of the bass line from the end of the Replacements’ “Left of the Dial” in opening cut “Creature of Nature”, though the band doesn’t reach for the lyrical witticisms of Paul Westerberg. And befitting the earlier Bettie Serveert comparison, you can hear a little bit of the unvarnished, rollicking sound of Sebadoh in the mix as well. Plus, there’s a passing hint of very early Guided By Voices circa Forever Since Breakfast. Ultimately, Witches belie a brew of influences, and they cast a spell in bringing it all together and weaving it into a sound they can call their own. After being mesmerized by Forever, you’ll get the sense that this trio might just be one of the best-kept secrets in the American indie scene today. This is a band that, in an ideal world, would end up going places beyond their Southern bastion of Athens; they have the chops for it, as well as a universally pleasing, countrified sound that just simmers in exquisite beauty.


Zachary Houle is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He has been a Pushcart Prize nominee for his short fiction, and the recipient of a writing arts grant from the City of Ottawa. He has had journalism published in SPIN magazine, The National Post (Canada), Canadian Business, and more. He also reviews books for

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