Fresh off their wild and raucous 2008 release, One Shoe Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Portland, Oregon’s The Ascetic Junkies are continuing an expedition into an endearing blend of pop-meets-bluegrass, dancy pants goodness with a new record: This Cage Has No Bottom. This time around, the songwriting duo of Matt Harmon and Kali Giaritta has embraced an approach they refer to as a greater feeling of “bandiness.” A departure from their previous songwriting endeavors, the Junkies have combined their creative hearts and minds as a full band for the first time on the new record, resulting in daring, expansive, and sometimes quirky arrangements, giving everyone in the band the opportunity to write parts, arrange melodies and raise their own voice (literally) on any given song. The approach fostered a renewed feeling of solidarity and togetherness, forging a familial collective for the band mates, and producing a simultaneously tighter and rougher album.
It’s no secret that the chemistry found in Harmon and Giaritta’s guy-girl harmonies lead to the core of the Junkies magic. With instrumentation sort of reminiscent of early Decemberists recordings, The Ascetic Junkies bring pop sensibilities and harmonies more associated with Miniature Tigers and The Rosebuds, crafting a playful, yet surprisingly accessible variety of folk-pop that resounds with an original and sometimes hard to define personality of its own. Lyrical themes range from fact to fiction, while songs like “Water From Wine” and “God/Devil/Gov’t” are standouts, highlighting Giaritta’s vocal leanings toward Dolores O’Riordan, giving listeners a taste of the broad texture, lighthearted vibe, and reckless energy that turn their live shows into keys and banjo-driven, romping stomping dance parties.
Led by Harmon, This Cage Has No Bottom was entirely recorded, mixed, and mastered by The Ascetic Junkies, using the closets, hallways, and bedrooms of Harmon and Giaritta’s cozy southeast Portland, Oregon home.