With their old-school sound and tight, almost innocent, harmonies, it would seem strange to see the sibling duo the Cactus Blossoms make a video in anything but black and white. And for their single “Stoplight Kisses,” they did indeed give it that classic, crisp B&W vibe, evoking the Ed Sullivan days where performance, not pyrotechnics, was paramount.
The Cactus Blossoms — comprising Minneapolis’ Page Burkum and Jack Torrey — formed in 2010, after both brothers became enamored with old country, blues and folk legends like Lead Belly in their late teens. “We sponged it all in,” Burkum tells Rolling Stone Country. “We heard some things we really liked, and that was around the time we were learning to play music. And folk music is a great way to learn to play simple songs.”
Songs like “Stoplight Kisses” from their debut LP You’re Dreaming are rather simple, relying on subtle shuffles of the guitar, plucks of the upright bass and smooth, effortless vocals that harken back to Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers. But there’s also a complexity, too, that comes from layering hints of rockabilly and old country with downright sweet lyricism. All that probably would have scored them a radio hit in the mid-Fifties but is unlikely to have a shot at today’s Hot 100 when the boy bands making a dent are One Direction, not the Beatles. But the Cactus Blossoms are just fine with that.
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“Just because you aren’t played on the mainstream radio doesn’t mean you can’t have a career,” says Burkum, who instead puts the focus on touring. “That’s exactly where I want to be, like Alabama Shakes and Kurt Vile. You don’t really hear them on any radio [stations], but they’re doing so well.”
You’re Dreaming is out now via Red House Records.