BY KATHRYN DOERS | Jonk Music
When Caroline Smith was merely 16, she started performing in her hometown of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota with nothing but her guitar and beautiful voice. Family had a huge part in motivating Caroline to play, but it was her mother that pushed her into performing in public. The singer states that it was "tough-love style, grounding threats and everything," but the outcome was wonderful as Caroline loves her job and we love her music. Life progressed fast and successfully for the folk singer, as she opened for B.B. King and released a self-titled album within her very first year. Having accomplished so much at only 16, it is not surprising that the now 24-year-old singer has managed to carve a name for herself in the complicated and difficult world of music.
The creation of Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps spans a few years, the first connection occurring between Caroline and Arlen Peiffer in 2007. The drummer now expertly supplies the groovy beats and irreplaceable rhythm for the entire group. Jesse Schuster joined the Good Night Sleeps the following year and is the bassist of the group. Today, the three manage to make sweet music together, and the group has been growing in strength and building popularity within the indie music scene.
They have had three successful albums to date, the most recent of which was released in September 2011, titled Little Wind. The ten songs echo the whimsical, gentle folk storytelling that Caroline and company created on their first album, but at the same time the sophomore record shows exactly how the group has evolved. Their new music can be described as more indie rock, as their sound within the tracks of Little Wind bridges the gap between indie rock and folk, the result being a pleasant and enjoyable blend of both. Alongside the compelling vibrato and alto timbre of Caroline's voice, many of their songs incorporate banjos, electronic filters, ukuleles, and other unique sounds to create their own personal style of music.
My personal favorite song, "Tanktop," mixes electronic sounding vocals with an infective beat and calming guitar. For those of you that enjoy catchy songs that make you want to dance with a stranger, "Tanktop" can be found on Little Wind. Another great song from the group's second album is "Birch Trees and Broken Barns," which is reminiscent of the quaint ukulele songs of Ingrid Michelson and other notable indie female artists. Little Wind is available for purchase on iTunes, so get to it!
A new album is in the works, being written and demoed right now. Fans can look forward to its release this spring after an expected European tour. Caroline assures us that "it's turning out like nothing we've done before ... I don't think you'll ever get two Caroline Smith records that sound alike."
Every show, the group likes to incorporate a few cover songs into the mix, just for fun. Usually, they are songs by "kick-ass women that wail" so that Caroline can "pretend [she is] a kick-ass woman that wails." Sounds kick-ass to me. When they are not working on the one or two covers, Caroline is usually the main songwriter, but other buddies and musicians had inspired some songs on the most recent album. But, she will not reveal her song-writing secrets, as then she would have to kill us. All of us.
If you want to sway and hum along with Caroline's impressive and catchy indie/pop melodies in person, now is your chance. Don't miss it! Caroline and the Good Night Sleeps will be performing in Madison this Wednesday, August 22 at the High Noon Saloon. Opening for distinguished rock group Dawes, it is sure to be a night of remarkable music and ridiculous dancing. Maybe at the same time.
Even if you can't make the show you can learn more about the band and hear their wonderful music at the band's website. I'm sure Caroline and her Good Night Sleeps would appreciate it. But seriously, if you can, go to the show. It will be great. Until then, fellow sleepers...