Sweet Caroline

Local band Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps release their sophomore album, “Little Wind.”

Caroline Smith, 23, and her band practice Wednesday afternoon to prepare for their show at First Ave on Friday night.

Caroline Smith, 23, and her band practice Wednesday afternoon to prepare for their show at First Ave on Friday night.

by Joseph Kleinschmidt


What: Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps CD Release Show with Dark Dark Dark, Dead Man Winter and The Daredevil Christopher Wright

When: Friday, 7:30 PM

Where: First Avenue Mainroom, 701 First Ave.

Cost: $12


Five years ago at 400 Bar, Caroline Smith, a student at the University of Minnesota would play solo acoustic shows every week, simply for fun. In the vein of Mason Jennings, Conor Oberst and Elliott Smith âÄî who all once performed at the West Bank music venue âÄî she perfected her infectious, sweetly withdrawn delivery.

Through 400 Bar owner Tom Sullivan, Smith met drummer Arlen Peiffer of local indie rockers Cloud Cult. Her backup band, The Good Night Sleeps, slowly took shape in 2007 with the addition of bassist Jesse Schuster as well.

Now she is bringing her distinct brand of indie folk-pop on a national tour in support of Caroline Smith and The Good Night SleepsâÄô second album, âÄúLittle Wind.âÄù

Since collaborating with multi-instrumentalist David Earl, the band gushes with excitement in playing with new, deeper instrumentation on the forthcoming record. Guitars and banjos, combined with electric bass and keyboards, create a fuller sound.

âÄúAs a band, we really value exploring new creative territory,âÄù Smith said. âÄúWe hope to be doing that throughout our career.âÄù

âÄúBackyard Tent Set,âÄù the groupâÄôs debut release, blends folk pop sensibilitiesall the way through. Storytelling embeds the lyrics to illustrate SmithâÄôs passion for English, her major as a former University student.

While the first album felt spontaneous âÄî the sort of natural intimacy a new group of musicians organically foster âÄî on the latest record, Smith and the band seek heavy refinement.

âÄúWe thought about the songs seriously,âÄù Smith said. âÄúIt was a completely different process. We really did meticulously comb through every part.âÄù

On âÄúLittle Wind,âÄù The Goodnight Sleeps shift their attention to the actual recording of the album. Letting the songs grow with more studio time, the groupâÄôs experiences in collaboration will inevitably aid in the future.

 âÄú[Recording] has been exciting for us. And definitely a key building block in what weâÄôll do in the future. We learned a lot from this record,âÄù Smith said.

Firmly planted in indie rock, the new material, recorded at the Terrarium in Minneapolis, rises above the somewhat simpler melodies of the previous album.

With more complex songs, reproducing the same sounds live becomes a challenge. But surrounding the group, other local acts encourage greater risks in production. Playing with fellow folk bands Dark Dark Dark and Dead Man Winter, Smith owes much to the flourishing local music scene.

âÄúWe couldnâÄôt do what we do like [touring, recording] without such a supportive community backing us up,âÄù she said.

Local production talents also add nuance to SmithâÄôs new songs. Working with successful producers like Jason Orris (Polara, Haley Bonar and Tom Herbers (Low), and Andrew Bird, âÄúLittle WindâÄù represents the work of many locals, all backing the rise of Caroline Smith and The Good Night Sleeps.

 âÄúThatâÄôs just the mentality here in Minneapolis. ItâÄôs a very special thing,âÄù Smith said.

Headlining First Avenue still presents challenges, especially for Smith. Praising the legendary venue in its history and continued luster for touring artists, she still addresses the task of performing nervously.

âÄúIâÄôll never get used to playing at First Avenue,âÄù said Smith. âÄúAny chance I get to play there is mind-numbingly awesome.âÄù