Tonight Tonight in Music
posted by November 15 at 11:20 AMon
Say Hi, the Velvet Teen, the A-Sides
(Crocodile) “A Captive Audience” from the album Elysium is by far my favorite Velvet Teen song. It’s a captivating and gorgeous orchestration of piano and strings—it’s gentle but bittersweet at first and then it bursts into a cathartic bomb of emotion and distortion. It’s beyond all my words, and it stops me in my tracks every time I hear it. As beautiful a song as it is, it isn’t the best representation of the Velvet Teen’s catalog. The band can mend the heart as well as they can break it with songs that tug on hips more than heartstrings. The band’s 2006 release, Cum Laude!, harnesses a bigger, louder energy that’ll make you dance instead of weep, and it’s the perfect balance of both sides that will get you through the impending winter. MEGAN SELING
Click here to listen to “A Captive Audience.”
As for openers the A-Sides, there’s a CD review in this week’s issue on their new album Silver Storms:
“Epic” isn’t easy to pull off in indie rock. You’ve got the slacker-noise-jam school of thought, where bands hammer away endlessly at out-of-tune guitars to produce a second-rate “Teen Age Riot.” You’ve got the Sufjan-championed glorious orchestral mode, which too often collapses under its own ostentatiousness.
So, the fact that the A-Sides’ Silver Storms pulls off three songs in the six-minute range (plus several others that sound like they should be) is impressive.
A Philadelphia band with lapsed British Invasion tendencies, the five-piece begin their sophomore album with an airy string quartet, easing into the chimes and thumping rhythm of “Always in Trouble.” Singer Jon Barthmus wails over key changes and minor sevenths, drifting in the ebb and flow of his bandmates’ sound until the feisty double-time coda. It’s a big intro, but the band are hardly spent. Later, “Sinking with the Ship” dissolves the record into a wash of cello and cymbals. The A-Sides keep their scope big, but never self-consciously so. Even when “Diamonds” leans painfully Coldplay in its slow-burn pacing and lyrical cheese (“let’s just shine, shine, shine/all day and all of the night”), there’s no delusions of grandeur. The song’s screaming Ebow-and-feedback crescendo is populist, not pandering—the sound of five guys playing as loud as they can and managing to make something transcendent. JOHN VETTESE