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.
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