Review: Cayetana ‘Nervous Like Me’
Cayetana is one of many in the sense that they were born into the hotbed of musical talent that is Philadelphia. The Philly scene is one that doesn’t seem to stop churning out incredible bands; see Tigers Jaw, The Menzingers, and Captain We’re Sinking. What makes Cayetana unique* is that this indie rock three piece is comprised of only women. It’s always refreshing to hear a female vocalist in such a male dominated scene, and Augusta Koch’s voice is top notch.
Cayetana have managed to create what is easily one of the most captivating debut records of the year with ‘Nervous Like Me.’ Everything from the production of this record down to the organization of the track-list was done perfectly. Every song flows into the next so naturally, you end up marveling at the thought that these songs weren’t written in the order they’re being presented. I don’t know that I can stress enough just what a triumph that ‘Nervous Like Me’ really is. This is a record you need to listen to.
The album opens up with “Serious Things Are Stupid.” Literally no time is wasted before we’re given our first taste of Koch’s almost impossibly endearing voice. Lyrically, the song tells the story of a relationship through an all too familiar narrative. The two are a disaster when they’re together, but all they want is to be together. The track starts with “I came here alone/And I plan to leave that way” communicating some sort of independence, but by the time we get to the last chorus, the lines have shifted to “I wanna hear you say that you came here alone/And you won’t leave that way.” One of the most beautiful things about the track is how the music changes positions along with the narrative. Things get slightly more chaotic, more full, and almost crashing once we get to that final chorus. I could talk about this song forever.
There may never be another song so lyrically on point with it’s social commentary as “Black Hills” truly is. Right off the bat we’re given gems like “We tell ourselves that we’re alright/But it’s a numbness that we feel” that flows right into that devastatingly catchy chorus. You’ll find yourself singing “And the prisoners still stay/Long after the guards went away/So let me run in the black hills/Let me go on my free will” before you actually listen to what they’re saying. I triple dog dare you (things are getting serious) to tell me that Cayetana isn’t a punk rock band. Triple dog dare.
“Dirty Laundry” has one of my favorite lyrics of the year embedded in the last minute or so of the track. Lyrically the song is already phenomenal; commenting on the habits or rituals people have to help them cope with hardship. The presented scenario here is an ended relationship. The one line that stands out to me the most in the track would have to be “To me you are a laundromat/Oh, I picture you like that/Trying to get clean again/Well, keep spinning, keep spinning my friend” We’re only three tracks in and I already want Cayetana to get their own vh1 Storytellers spot.
Fun Fact: I don’t think I’ll ever get the fist line of “Animal” right. I know now that the first line is “I’ll ride west for you,” but I always sing “I’ll write less for you” instead. Every song on this record is one that you should be listening to. But, if I had to pick, this would be one of the first I showed you. The music is driving and full of animalistic energy. This track has one of the most commercial/soundtrack ready sounding hooks I’ve heard in the scene. “Animal” is a guaranteed crowdpleaser. “Mountain Kids” is another song just waiting for it’s time to shine. Delivery is on point in every aspect imaginable, and the energy is just way too high to be wasted.
The real sweet spot of the record comes with the back to back megajams that are “Madame B” and “Scott, Get The Van I’m Moving.” “Madame B” has this hauntingly charming quality to it. Koch’s voice is at it’s best on this song. The crashing drums and steady guitars give this song a sort of chaotic feeling that you can’t help but enjoy. It’s a song you didn’t know that you needed in your life; but you honestly do. “Scott Get The Van I’m Moving” is a song with one of the most easily remembered hooks. If you don’t shout along to “The hardest part of moving out/moving out/is I remember moving in” with the same amount of nervous emotion these three do, there’s something wrong with you. It’s so hard not to do it every single time.
Things slow down for a minute with “Favorite Things” giving us a little bit of time to recover from that one-two punch endured previously. The break doesn’t last long though, because we’re thrown right into “Hot Dad Calendar.” Now, this was released on a two song 7” alongside a song that didn’t make the record. So, I’m sure most of you have already heard this gem. It’s got a killer bass line that really drives the track home, and you just get a jam vibe from it. Like, this could easily be playing in the background of a party scene and it would just work. “Busy Brain” is another cool track that’s unfortunately overshadowed by both the song before it and the song after it. That hook is still incredibly sweet though. Especially if you don’t want to change for the world, and you want the world to change for you.
Album closer “South Philly” is one of the biggest sounding tracks on the album. The soft guitar work, driving bass line underneath an incredible vocal delivery. Everything about this song just works so beautifully. I get goosebumps every time I hear this song. I can’t say enough about how truly incredible it is. So please, make it a priority to listen.
Cayetana has proven that they are not a band to sleep on. Their debut album ‘Nervous Like Me’ is made up of one fantastic song after another. Everything feels important, and nothing feels forced. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for these ladies as they continue to grow as people and musicians. This is another easy 5/5, and an AOTY contender for me. No question.
* At least the in the handful of bands from the scene that I can recall