You must have Adobe Flash Player to use this function.
By: Bogar Alonso
Orphans have the difficult task of engendering an identity out of a broken origin; they carry traits akin to their parents, but must forge a place out of a shadow foundation. If they look to shake the pillars of said foundation, they venture unto amorphous terrain, for they know neither what they seek to change, because it is faceless, nor what they seek to change it to. Orphans are then caught in an eternal and harrowing limbo of self. Fortunately enough for Nashville’s The Deep Vibration, their forefathers never seem to linger far.
The band certainly can be equated with orphans, seeing as how they sound like a spawn of Neil Young and the angst-ridden The Modern Lovers left to fend alone in an expansive wilderness of folk-rock Americana. But it is these vivid ties that keep them from leading a life of disconnected beginnings. This band is well aware where their roots are planted. There are even times, especially in the way that the group’s singer, Matt Campbell, quivers his voice, that one can’t help but feel as if revisiting the domain of a classic album or two. I caught the band at show at Schubas (Chicago) in early March, and was instantly persuaded to make myself to the forefront of a static crowd. Their sound had the quality of a new love: at once startlingly familiar and also alluringly foreign. I had to learn more about them.
The lesson materialized itself in the form of their five song EP, Veracruz. It is a soundscape blanketed with the sensibilities of Van Morrison, Cat Stevens, Jesse Winchester and those aforementioned. The opener, “Oklahoma City Woman Blues (Veracruz),” touts a band of great skill, a skill tantamount to their big emotions. Near the end of the song, Campbell bellows out the lyrics “get these Oklahoma blues off my mind” with such fervor that he seems to grate them off by the doing of his own voice. Next follows the rollercoaster “Third Day of July.” A la the ride, it begins calm and unhurried only to fall into a pit of crashing noise. The track, like much of the rest of the EP, is solidified by the bravado of established contributors. On this track, Al Perkins and Spooner Oldham add resonance. Gillian Welch adds her lure to the closer “Tennessee Rose.” Also the group’s sound was captured by Niko Bolas and Rob Clark, both of Neil Young fame.
The tracks are peppered with attentive lyrics that do tend to stale at times. But every so often there is a flowering of a text sweet enough to keep us interested. The most notable example coming in the song “Third Day of July,” where we hear the tragic utterance of “You’re a spark/And I’m third day of July.” This is nuanced writing at its best.
Unfortunately for the EP—and for the band at that—the great moments, including “Oklahoma City Woman Blues (Veracruz),” “Third Day of July,” and on a lesser level, “Tennessee Rose,” are anchored down by the murkiness of the sandwiched tracks “Thanks to You” and “Mississippi Women.” They aren’t inherently horrible, in fact, in the first few listens you might break into some foot-tapping, but they’re mediocre at best, as repeated listens reveal. Still, this is a band with promise. Much promise. They get their name from Lou Reed, who blessed them with their name after one of his shows at Nashville. If that isn’t the workings of future rock n’ roll legend I don’t know what is. They can certainly mimic those legends pretty well. But in order to traverse the next hill, they must stretch, if not break, their ties with their musical lineage—for they must remember that their own heroes once did the same.