I first time I saw Caeleigh Featherstone perform was in the tiny back room of Tree Bar, a Columbus neighboorhood hangout and music venue with an uncle’s-basement vibe and a gigantic tree stump grown through the middle of the floor. (The tree trunk used to extend all the way through the ceiling, but that’s another story.) At the time Featherstone was playing keyboards and contributing vocals to WV White, a group that did incredible things with slapdash ’90s indie rock. It was late on a weeknight, and hardly anyone was there, but the band’s performance sent me reeling. They blurred psych, pop, shoegaze into massive droning swells, like local heroes Times New Viking if they hit the weight room and stretched out to luxuriant lengths. This was one of those rare moments of connection that sticks with you.
Featherstone has covered a lot of ground since then, both musically and geographically. She’s been a touring member of the fiercely beloved emo experimentalists Foxing and pristine power-pop experts the Sidekicks. Most famously, she joined Columbus folk-rock adventurers Saintseneca in 2018 after Maryn Jones (Yowler, All Dogs) departed the lineup, appearing on their most recent ANTI- release Pillar Of Na and contributing to another one of my favorite concerts by a Columbus band, this one quite a bit more crowded than the WV White gig.
So my interest in a Featherstone solo project is high, even (especially?) one that diverges sharply from her previous affiliations. As Mukiss, she’s making a time-honored transition, infusing her guitar-based indie rock with a heavy dose of keyboards and electronics. Debut single “Bruise Blue,” which emerged over the holidays, suggests she will excel in this context, too. It’s produced by Glenn Davis of Way Yes, a musician who has long been adept at translating quirky DIY indie fare into the electro-pop realm, but the song’s confessional and melodic power belongs to Featherstone alone.