Issue June 16, 2010

Secret Transit

Kaiser Cartel
DANIEL RECORDS

Crafting a sophomore full-length, from genesis to final note, is a dicey proposition. Stick with what works but avoid stagnation, cover new ground while maintaining identity — not an easy balancing process. Courtney Kaiser and Benjamin Cartel have evidently achieved this equilibrium, and the result is Secret Transit. The alterna-folk acoustic warmth and bouncy playfulness of their debut is here in full supply, as are sundry percussive elements (ranging from handclaps to alarm clock bells). Further, the record shines bright with expanded horizons: The first and last tracks are perfectly spooky, and a few pick-it-up tunes add a just-right pinch of needed electricity. A great example comes in a cover of “Worn Out Nervous Condition,” repurposed as a delightfully addicting folk-pop meditation on love in limbo. This is a band known for diverse instrumentation and textured, intimate live performances, all of which is expertly captured here. To listen to this fan-funded project is to be unable to keep it a secret.