Cheers and Beards: Carissas Wierd, a precursor to Band of Horses, made complex, miserable Americana. s Wierd, a precursor to Band of Horses, made complex, miserable Americana.

It’s shocking how many reissues of lost indie-rock acts offer the descriptor “ahead of its time.” Carissa’s Wierd was never ahead of its time. What it was, and still sounds like, is out of place. Though not entirely anachronistic, the disbanded Seattle group’s sound sticks out from its post-grunge, pre-indie-surge milieu, and luckily its new retrospective, They’ll Only Miss You When You Leave: Songs 1996-2003, honors that iconoclasm. Though its members went on to play in Band of Horses, Carissa’s Wierd’s nearest aural signposts are emo’s second wave and contemporary twee-pop. And yet: While its ’90s emo peers were fusing aggressive post-punk with sugary-sweet hooks, Carissa’s Wierd expressed aggression only through its dedication to melodic, delicately repetitious guitar work. And while its current twee-pop counterparts make coy, light, summery ditties, Carissa’s Wierd waded in intricate shades of misery in the key of complex Americana. Its music exists in a weird (ahem) aural stasis, but there’s something comforting and familiar about its music. After all, this isn’t a product of a degenerative noise microscene of one: At its heart, Carissa’s Wierd churned out tunes anyone with an ear for folk can enjoy. The 16 songs on They’ll Only Miss You draw from the same formula: meticulously crafted melodies, acoustic finger-picking, and male-female vocal harmonies. The voices belong to Jenn Ghetto and Mat Brooke, the group’s core members. After playing in Band of Horses with another former Carissa’s Wierd member, Ben Bridwell, Brooke formed Grand Archives. But those projects have little to do with They’ll Only Miss You: Fans of Band of Horses’ poppy, large-scale folk rock will likely be put off by the slowcore inertia of Carissa’s Wierd’s “Phantom Fireworks” or the brooding, whispered balladry of its “September Come Take This Heart Away.” In fact, the substantial heft of They’ll Only Miss You can be pretty off-putting. But there’s a reason Carissa’s Wierd is remembered as a jewel, or at least should be. Take a song like “So You Wanna Be a Superhero”: Once Ghetto’s voice grabs hold of the tune’s soft, reverberating guitar drone and repeatedly whispers “I might be leaving soon,” Carissa’s Wierd’s strange magic and chemistry become apparent. It’s weird, and that’s OK.