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Venice Is Sinking
Sand & Lines: The Georgia Theatre Sessions
One Percent Press
www.onepercentpress.com


I remember first hearing Venice Is Sinking about 7 or so years ago as a promo CD and not being terribly impressed. It seemed to me they were more of an avant garde, mathy indie band… my, how times have changed! The last two VIS records have been wonderful exercises in melody and harmony that have led, ultimately, to the prize at the end of the rainbow, Sand & Lines. The band has somehow grown and morphed from an amorphous bit of noise rockery to a chamber-pop-inspired rock band to a beautifully orchestrated alternative country band. And now, to top off that transition and make it complete, the band recorded their latest album in the (now burned down) Georgia Theatre, with a minimum of microphones, no overdubs, completely live, playing a mix of their own songs and some beautifully executed cover tunes. This is how great music is made!

The record starts off with the slowly lilting melodies of "Sidelights", a track that hints at starry nights and softly lit walkways in winter. It is a perfect setup for the low beauty that is to come. The second track is a beautifully conceived, string heavy cover of Galaxie 500's amazingly cool "Tugboat" and the third track is a dark, downbeat, gritty cover of Dolly Parton's infamous "Jolene". The band then treads the lovely paths of their own songs for a time, really hitting a remarkably poignant and dynamic stride on the powerful "Falls City". This track, with it's overpowering organ and low slung drums offers a darkly, weird folk sound with an old-timey vibe that pulls the listener in, the thrum of the electric guitar a darkly gravitational force that cannot be easily escaped while the vocals are endearing in a Tim Burton-esque sense. "Pebble Hill" picks things up a bit, lightening the mood with its more upbeat pacing and major chord progressions. The strings in this song are wonderfully earthy and help to lift the song into a happier place. "Bound By Violets" rocks the house a bit more, with heavier drumming and guitars taking more rock'n'roll places before "Bardstown Road" sombers things back up a bit. The album finishes with a cover of the beautiful old country tune "The Wurlitzer Prize", a song made famous by Waylon Jennings, but that is presented here in a much more melancholy vein, dirgey in it's simple beauty with a nice swing to carry it along.

This record is full of fantastic songs, recorded in a very old school way, in a space that no longer exists… To that end, proceeds from the sale of the CD will benefit the restoration of the Georgia Theatre. Great songs for a great cause. I can think of no better reason than to run out and get yourself a copy. It'll be great for your soul.

-Embo Blake

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