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Standout Track: The A-side, “The 65 Cent Dinner,” which wades into one of the band’s frequent motifs: the rewards and perils of a creative life. Although the song has plenty of The Caribbean’s touchstones—brittle acoustic noodling, vapor-like loops, an eerie and otherworldly feel—it eschews the trio’s economical songwriting. Instead, its protagonist slowly lays bare an encounter in which a mentor shares his great expectations. Interspersed is the creeping onset of despair. “There was once a great poet over the open vast expanse of aqua blue,” frontman Michael Kentoff sings in the chorus, “who couldn’t resist its sweet call.”
Musical Motivation: “The song is sort of about being pumped full of big ideas and believing them, and then not living up,” says Kentoff. He was inspired by Weldon Kees, an American poet, author, painter, and critic whose artistic efforts between the 1930s and 1950s went largely unnoticed. Kees disappeared in 1955; his car was found by the Golden Gate Bridge. Kentoff took a line from one of Kees’ novels and “decided to sort of extrapolate or write a song as if Weldon Kees were writing it,” he says.
Shook Ones: At least the band had fun releasing the one-off 7-inch for Columbus, Ohio, label Scioto Records. For a successful Kickstarter campaign, the band agreed to reward generous pledges with original music; two funders gave enough to pick a cover song for The Caribbean to record. The first was “Jungle Love” by Steve Miller Band, “but hardly recognizable as such,” says Kentoff. “And we have an Alice Cooper song we have to do.”