|ISSUE 8.2||SPRING 1998|
Bands that we normally like are believable. We find their music a sincere extension of their personality and in a town where the punk aesthetic has dominated for so long, it is hard to imagine finding figureheads worthy of that type of adoration any more. Have we not been pummeled to death by white- boy-I'm-mad-at-the-police rock long enough. And as a boy isn't it nice to have a female singer/songwriter front a band that permits us to act out all those silly fantasies like girls have done since the inception of the guitar solo. Yeah, it's cool to get excited, both musically and physically, in the presence of a talented female musician.
The Velveteens are Cowtown's strange newness. A combination of tired punk and beautifully written and arranged vocal gems. A scrappy bunch flawed technically and still a little uncomfortable about the whole stage presence thing; nonetheless, the innate charm of their music, the vocal hooks, some grit, and a set of superb songs gives them the benefit of the doubt as an excellent band. Fronted by principal singer/songwriter/guitarist Amy Alwood, the Velveteens are surely her expression. Where has she been that makes these songs so honest? If you can get her to sit down and talk, I bet there is a great story beyond the little windows you get to look through in a three minute pop song.
The music ranges from bluesy Stevie Ray Vaughan and Bonnie Raitt to Liz Phair, Helium, and PJ Harvey. But it's the vocal harmonies with Amy's sister, Meagan, that will win you over. A tune like "Romeo" will ring in your head for a week. Imagine if Margot Timmons of the Cowboy Junkies lived a few weeks down and out in New York City spent on drugs and residing in a cardboard box; then she returns to placid Canada and sings to you some wonderfully troubled tales with a reincarnated Patsy Cline.
Wynton Marsalis once stated that the blues are an extension of the "spirit of being sad," and the spirit of it is what makes Amy's life's trials so believable.
The Velveteens will be playing Thursday night, June 18th, at Bernie's and Monday, June 22nd at Little Brothers.
- Troy (June 18, 1998)
To generalize, it's ska core at its finest. Looking a little deeper, it's a lotta ska, some funk, a bit of rap, quite a bit of punk and even some hardcore. It's obvious the band has ties to 311, with Nick Hexum as a guest and some telltale harmonies, but comparing 311 to the Urge is like comparing Spam to a filet. There IS no comparison.
Given, some of the lyrics seem a little pointless, but Steve Ewing's vocal capabilities make up for it. The band is tight, and they definitely live up to their self-proclaimed "master of styles" on this disc moving from rap/metal on tunes like "Straight to Hell" and "Identity Crisis" to straight-forward ska on "Jump Right In" and "My Apology," and even a love song with "Closer" (it's only a LITTLE cheesy, I promise.)
Two of my favorite things about this CD are the bouncy, full basslines (think very anti-reggae) and the lack of long, annoying solos. Sure, there's a place for that in jazz-ska, but the Urge keeps the solos tastefully sparse and short, leaving the arrangements and melodies to do most of the talking. Some high points are "Jump Right In," "My Apology" and "Identity Crisis." Honestly though, there ARE no bad songs on this disc.
If you only listen to traditional ska, period, then you won't like this disc. However, just about every other ska fan will find something to like about Master of Styles. A healthy appreciation of 311, the Bosstones and MU330 are recommended but not required. This disc is awesome, if I had my way it would be required listening.
- Nicole (June 04, 1998)
At first I thought it sounded like Wolfgang but didn't look like them. Blame it on the heat, the outdoor venue and their lack of black tie attire. After a closer look and another tune, I could tell it was them, but was pleasantly surprised. They turned their pristine swing rock band schmaltz into something on the good side of basic punk and rock-n-roll -- Social Distortion with more dynamics all the way around. Yes, it's still the same swing rock tunes, but with new energy.
Of course the little audience call backs and Wolfgang's vocal speed freak show were still part off the set, but it didn't annoy me as it sometimes had. The guitar sound stuck out as particularly different and energetic. A crisp, clear, distortion I wanted to compare to something and eventually came up with the Scorpions -- "The Zoo" if you must have a particular Scorps tune. German swing metal doesn't really sound all that odd when ya think about it ... does it?
Anyway, if you've been passing on Wolfgang, now could be a good time to check them out.
- Joel (May 27, 1998)
- Melvin B. Strange (May 16, 1998)
Goldfinger: more punk and less ska than i expected. the surprisingly good band of the afternoon. with their wireless electric guitars, they were able to put on one hell of a stage show, even though i heard their music wasn't quite what it normally is. despite the music, i liked their style. the lead singer knew how to work the audience and all four knew how to have fun. the drummer even got up and sang to "I'm too sexy," that damned Chumbawumba song, Whitney Houston's "I Will Always love you" and a few others. But they weren't covers, they were more like parodies, what with him showing his ass repeatedly and then diving into the adoring crowd.
Lincoln: I wanted to like them, but damn if they weren't bland.
They Might Be Giants: They Might Be Boring Me Out Of My Skull. I felt like I entered some strange subculture where many many youngsters felt the need to latch onto this band in their insecure little childhoods and then never gave the band up, constantly applauding every one of their quirks, singing every single word to every single song and playing all their little games (Apes v. Humans). I left early.
- Daniel Strohl (May 03, 1998)
On one hand, the fact that the crowd was sparse stunk -- they deserved a better crowd. On the other hand, made for a pleasant, rather intimate night as the band played on the floor rather than on stage. If you weren't there, you really missed out.
- Nicole Wolfersberger (Apr 27, 1998)
- Daniel Strohl (Apr 20, 1998)
- [email protected] (Apr 11, 1998)