The Velvet Teen - Cum Laude!
2006, Slowdance Records, Santa Rosa CA
In response to my co-writers lack of punctuation due to mass consumption of the song "Heroin", by The Velvet Underground, I'll be using ultimate punctuation. Or maybe I won't, because it is likely that I will over excite myself while I write this review.
Although The Velvet Teen has been around for 8+ years, they've only released a number of EP's and three LP's due to both a slow pace and complications within the band. First off, the band started out as a side project that took some time to pick up. In 2000, Logan Whitehurst and Judah Nagler formed the band, featuring a more electronic sound. Over time, the band has experimented with electronics, grand pianos and noises among many other musical sounds. This has led the band to develop an inconsistent style which has led reviewers to relate each release as a cheap and poorly done imitation of another band. Regardless of criticism, TVT's newest release proves that they have surpassed all the bounds of their previous albums; a band that simply cannot be dismissed with cheap comparisons to other larger and more "signifigant" bands.
On Cum Laude!, the new line up includes drummer Casey Deitz. This is the ultimate evolution of the TVT so far. Instead of the sentimental grand pianos lulling the most indie of us to sleep, the band now promises to pull you in every direction, without allowing you to fall completely out of sanity- a feat I've only seen TVT do. Casey Deitz is the prime example of the albums new sound. He is a typhoon of drums that never relents, and only reverts back to semi-normal rock drumming (still on the edge with many glitchy fills and double speed) after minutes of explosive chaotic, technical, and musical percussive bliss- which once again taking us back to this concept of reaching the bottom as much as possible without actually bottoming out. Nagler's unbelievable vocal range (sounds something like 4 octaves) is used with an assertion never before seen on previous albums. Instead of singing in an operatic fashion, he seems to embrace his natural vocal style more so on this album, using every register as a new means of emoting without ever overdoing it. However, this is probably a matter of preference because in all honesty, his voice is very extreme, especially on this album. His lyrics, however, are a little more open-ended and less direct than his expressive delivery. Nagler's extremely ambiguous, at times good, and occasionally great lyrics of TVT accommodate the music awesomely. In comparison to the other aspects of the music, the lyrics are often times drowned out often a time due to mumbly delivery, often to be dominated by the music- which may speak more than the words half the time.
Once again, a predominant factor which makes Cum Laude! great is it's ability to create as much chaos as possible while retaining cohesive songs. The songs on the album are like a wild beast contained in a cage, battering against it trying to get out only to be contained once more. Sound-wise, if Casey Deitz and Judah Nagler were the beast, bassist Josh Staples is the cage- he is unable to tame the beast, but able to contain it. Able to contain it enough that you can see the entire picture without pure fear and delusions of of getting mangled by nothing but this absolute chaos beast of glory. He carries the music along, barely retaining it but it is another important aspect of definition for the bands sound. It's brutal, self destructive music in a totally different sense but cathartic and resigning in the same way Stuart spoke of on "Heroin".
Oh, and did I mention? Cum Laude! sounds pretty unique- the general consensus of myself and the few others who've heard their music.
1. "333" - 3:35
2. "Flicking Clint" -2:28
3. "Rhodekill" -4:31
4. "False Profits" -3:11
5. "Tokyoto" -2:33
6. "Noi Boi" -3:48
7. "Spin the Wink" -4:35
8. "Bloom" -2:42
9. "Building A Whale" -3:29
10. "In A Steadman Spray" -4:19
11. "Around the Roller Rink" -3:41
12. "GyzmKid" -4:13
Not even god can change your nature
But you can hold out, right?