Twenty-year-old Caroline Smith lost no time getting her music career started when she matriculated at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. After seeing the similarly voiced Joanna Newsom play the 400 Club, the young singer-songwriter approached the venue about playing shows, leading to a residency gig at the club. Over the past year, her act has expanded into a full band, The Good Night Sleeps, featuring Jesse Schuster, Alex Ramsey and Cloud Cult's Arlen Peiffer.
On her new record Backyard Tent Set, out now, Smith shoots for a brand of indie pop that's in the neighborhood of Feist and St. Vincent, though with looser production and less contrived dramatic effects (so far). "Lack of Height" is an atmospheric, electric piano-driven tale of a kiss falling short with not unpleasant results; others, like the secret-crush note "Closing the Doors," lean more toward acoustic-folk strumming with perky pop rhythms, which combine to good result when she hits the chorus, "When all the men will be boys / and the girls sing the chorus again."
Smith and the band have opened for a number of prominent indie acts including The White Rabbits and Dr. Dog. Pittsburgh musicians have their own chance to perform alongside Smith tonight, when she and the band are featured artists at the Shadow Lounge's open-stage night on Wed. Aug. 20.
Open Mic featuring Caroline Smith and The Good Night Sleeps. 9 p.m. Wed., Aug. 20. Shadow Lounge. Free for 21 and over; $5 for ages 18-20. 5972 Baum Blvd., East Liberty. www.7thmovement.net