Friday, September 15, 2006

Velvet: Vintage Southern Power Pop

"No One Here"
(from The Juggernaut 2006. Buy it here.)

Here's the chicken-vs-egg puzzle of Velvet's new recording, Juggernaut: do they have such a great throwback power-pop sound because Mitch Easter produced the album, or was he just the logical choice to bring out their existing style? (I know, the answer is probably both and neither, but indulge my introductory conceit, OK?) One reason I wonder is that their bio claims that they started out as "a Wilmington-based art-rock outfit", and they sure don't sound like that anymore. I like guitarist Jay Manley's description in this article: "We sound like Chapel Hill in 1983" -- they are definitely working a sound that has at least some roots in the dB's/Let's Active sound of that era. The one objection I have to this is that the drums in particular sound like that as well, rather than something a bit more contemporary.

Juggernaut is a fine collection of hooks and harmonies , but it also gets a lot of mileage out of bassist Jane Francis' exuberant vocals. On "No One Here" she shares the vocals with Manley (who is also her husband), but "Cracker" is a ripping rocker that's all hers. Evidently it's been a struggle to get the album out -- the article linked above is three years old and refers to it as "forthcoming". Whatever the reason for the delay, it's a welcome arrival.

Jane Francis:
"18 Letters"
(from Skeletons for Tea, 2005. Buy/download)

A bonus track from Francis' solo album, since I'm so fond of her voice. This is the only track I have heard from Skeletons for Tea, but if the whole thing follows suit, its much more of a rootsy/folky affair than Velvet.


At 5:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You beat us to a post on Velvet!

No fair!

-Diversions: The Daily Tar Heel

At 3:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, pshaw! One needs to go back only one spectacular album to Where Are The People to find the answer to that riddle!


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