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Velvet Crush

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Teenage Symphonies to God

Willie's comments: The jangly pop sensibility of early R.E.M. was so distinctly Southern-sounding that it was only a matter of time until the musical movement they pioneered would be perverted into alt-country. Fortunately, unlike the Jayhawks and dozens of other bands, Velvet Crush do alt-country right, enlisting the help of two former R.E.M. producers (Mitch Easter and Scott Litt) on Teenage Symphonies to God. Despite being a trio, Velvet Crush has a muscular, power-poppy sound which usually masks its countrified elements, or at least provides a nice balance. I've never heard such effective use of a pedal steel as on this album. There are plenty of good songs here- "My Blank Pages," "This Life is Killing Me," the Matthew Sweet-esque "Something's Gotta Give"- but it all begins to wear toward the end. If you like Sun Volt or Uncle Tupelo or any of those bands, however, Teenage Symphonies to God is highly recommended, as it beats the pants off most of the rest of the alt-country movement. Grade: B

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Velvet Goldmine soundtrack

Willie's comments: You wouldn’t think it to listen to Marilyn Manson, but glam rock used to be a genre chock-full of creativity and feeling that was just as rare in mainstream rock back in the 70s as it is now. Happily, this soundtrack to Todd Haynes’s film lets neophytes in on great, forgotten tunes of glam’s past (contributions from Roxy Music, T. Rex, and Lou Reed), while ushering in a cadre of new glam greats in the form of songs from Grant Lee Buffalo, Shudder to Think, and Placebo. While it’s nearly impossible to top such classics as Brian Eno’s "Needles in the Camel’s Eye" and Lou Reed’s "Satellite of Love," the Venus in Furs (a band which features Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood) steal the show with revamped versions of timeless songs by Eno and Roxy Music. Grade: A

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The Velvet Underground

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The Velvet Underground & Nico

Willie's comments: I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why this album was so revolutionary. Apart from high levels of dissonance in songs like “European Son” and chanteuse Nico’s hilariously accented vocals, the VU’s debut album basically sounds like any psychedelic rock album from the ‘60s, only with a substantially darker worldview and nowhere near the amount of hooks to be even moderately enjoyable. The tracks Nico sings on are fairly catchy lounge numbers, but songwriter Lou Reed’s vocals are uninteresting and bland, even when he’s singing about transvestites and heroin. R.E.M. covered the two best songs from this album (“Femme Fatale” and “There She Goes Again”) on Dead Letter Office, anyway, so you don’t need to worry about getting it. I realize that this was an album of immeasurable importance, and without it, brilliant bands like Yo La Tengo and Stereolab might never have existed, but in and of itself, this album is pretty dull. Grade: C+

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The Velvet Underground

Willie's comments: Screechy violin guy John Cale left the band after White Light/White Heat, and Reed took that opportunity to tone down the Velvets’ music a great deal. The leisurely, folkish songs like “Pale Blue Eyes” and “Candy Says” are very pleasant, and occasionally pretty, while the more uptempo numbers like “What Goes On” have an ebullient quality that prevents them from being annoyingly tuneless, like Nico’s “Waiting for the Man.” The eight-minute experimental chaos of “The Murder Mystery” is the only jarring moment on this album, but it’s nonetheless fascinating and never unlistenable, while drummer Maureen Tucker murmurs her way through the catchy “After Hours,” which is a favorite of Center for Creative Studies students. This is a nice, low-key album, but if you’re in the mood for something folksy and quiet, you’d be better off putting in some Belle & Sebastian or early R.E.M. At least they can sing. Grade: B+

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Loaded

Willie's comments: The opening track, “Who Loves the Sun?” is a happy ‘60s pop tune that apparently embodies everything Nico was rebelling against, and I’ve never been able to determine whether Reed meant it as a Ween-esque joke, or whether he went full-circle and finally embraced the pleasures of hippie pop. The stupid lyrics point to the former interpretation, while the rest of Loaded’s music supports the latter- songs like “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’” and “New Age” are drenched in drippy guitars that you can practically hear flowers growing out of. Even the classic “Sweet Jane” and “Cool It Down” feature the sort of hooks that Reed never wrote until this album (and very rarely afterward). So whether it’s sincere or not, we may never know, but it’s the VU’s most consistently enjoyable album regardless. Grade: A-

READER COMMENTS:

Zophael979@aol.com writes: Your views on the last two albums pretty much mirror mine (though I'd call the self-titled third album as good as anything R.E.M. ever put out), but there's a few things I disagree with you about the Nico album. Firstly, I think you downplay the band's influence a little bit. Not just Yo La Tengo and Stereolab came from VU, but many bands. The aforementioned R.E.M., the Feelies, the Strokes, Television, Sonic Youth, Dream Syndicate, Mission of Burma, Patti Smith, Pavement, and a whole glut of bands easily found on college radio that have the VU has an influence. They're also probably one of the most covered underground bands of all time with people like David Bowie, R.E.M., The Feelies, The Counting Crows, Nirvana, Buffalo Tom, Half-Japanese, and probably some guy playing down the street from some place right now all doing versions of their songs. If you wanted to, you could probably find a cover by some fairly well-known artist for all the songs on the first two records AT LEAST. They were also, more or less, the beginning of the American underground rock and roll scene, showing that you didn't have to make music that was commercial viable (though they certainly made plenty of that---"Sunday Morning" is the radio hit that never was). Also, Lou Reed is probably one of the most vastly imitated vocalists out there, as just one listen to The Strokes can certainly attest. The "New York Cool" sing-talky vibe he had on Nico must've influenced Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth a lot as well.

Of course, none of this means anyone has to like The Velvet Underground, but they were important AND though they wore their influences on their sleeves (Bob Dylan being the most obvious), nothing that came out before them sounded like them, whereas much that came after did. They weren't revolutionary in a big way, like, say, Hendrix, but in their own small wall and thanks to Mr. Reed's brilliant song-writing, still strike a chord today. At least with me, anyway.

I should also say I completely disagree with the notions of the R.E.M. covers even approaching the original. Well, their "Pale Blue Eyes" cover is great in a country ballad sort of way, but "There She Goes Again" and "Femme Fatale" don't really capture what the originals were going for. Even Nico's off-key warble in the later was somewhat meaningful because you knew that she was singing about herself in the third person whereas Stipe just kind puts the whole thing across pretty blandly. Ditto on "There She Goes". He's too resigned for such an angry, violent song. Then again I suppose it's all just a matter of taste.

Dwayne reasons: As a graduate of Hitler Studies from College on the Hill, I always assumed that Adolf Hitler was a testimate to human ignorance, but then I stumbled across your review of the Velvet Underground and Nico.

How can someone with a such a solid vocabulary miss the point entirely? Lou Reed's lyrics are uninteresting and bland... well, if someday you ever decide to try something called drugs, you will realize that it will change your voice, make it raspy, jangly, neo-folk. It's called a deepening voice, something that probably eluded you when you zipped through puberty.

You say it "basically sounds like any psychedelic rock album from the ‘60s, only with a substantially darker worldview and nowhere near the amount of hooks to be even moderately enjoyable."

What fucking other 60's psychadelic album does it sound like? Did you know that the whole reason that there are bands like Pavement and cocksuckers like Stereolab is because of the fusion of art and rock... the moonchild and pet project of Andy Warhol. The reason it sounds different and disjointed is because it was being experimental for art's sake. It took the basic concepts of rock (drum, bass, guitar...) and added a new element to it. And it cannot sound like every other album of the time, because the Velvets formed in 1965 -- a time when the only type of music was beatle-based pop, doo wop, and chuck berry fellatio. The psychadelic movement didnt crest until 1967 when revolutionary albums like Sgt. Pepper, and the Stones Satanic Magesty's request were released. The whole point of this movement was to be different.

Fuck you.
Fuck Yo La Tengo (of whom I have 4 albums)
Fuck modern rock
Smoke some weed, you silly, silly little man and listen to what history sounds like.

6 million Jews died for your piss-poor taste in music.

LoadesC writes: To state that the first VU album is revolutionary is putting it mildly. It was at least 20 years ahead of it's time. No other band has been as influential, not even the Beatles. Here are my ratings.
Velvet Underground and Nico. A+
White Light White Heat. A
Velvet Underground. A+
Loaded. A
1969 Live. A-
The greatest Rock band ever, no question.

dark.arkive@gmail.com writes: Like the Sex Pistols, this IS a band whose tremendous influence often gets in the way of the music.

Unlike Johnny Rotten and his crew of Floyd-hatin' idiots, however, the VU is entirely worth it, and I encourage you to give them another chance. The problem is that unlike most of their disciples--Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, bands they rely on sweeping soundscapes and heavily layered sounds--the VU has a very simple style, and if you don't like the basis of it, there's nothing to distract you. They use scrawling feedback instead of 500 layered guitars, and their songs, with a few exceptions, are common rock and roll formuals. What makes the VU special and interesting is Lou Reed's incredible songwriting and the atmosphere even the most poppy of VU songs holds--drugged but brilliant, unpleasant but fascinating, elitist but very, very f*cked up.

Loaded and the Velvet Underground are gorgeous pieces of pop rock, but the band's brilliance does not truly lie in that direction, and one's opinion of VU should not rest on those albums. Still good buys, though. Excellent rock, just not experimental.

You haven't reviewed White Light/White Heat, either because you don't have it or because you truly despise it. The key with that one is upping the bass, relaxing your muscles, and just letting it hit you. It may be the most unpleasant sounding album ever released, but therein lies the power and the originality of what the VU did to sound. You won't listen to that album often, nor will you wake up humming anything from it like Loaded (unless you're truly insane), but it will scare and intrigue you like no other album.

The debut, however, remains the band's centerpiece, although I can see why you don't enjoy it.

It's frustrating because songs like "Femme Fatale" follow very basic and common patterns, but rarely is the band enjoying themselves, and they expect a lot of the listener. You have to pay attention to the lyrics to get VU&N, because the music alone won't carry the load. But combined, the effect is incredible. Lou Reed's flat vocals become the ultimate beat-poet delivery, the simple but shrieking guitars become the very word of the underground, and the songs come together in a way Sgt. Peppers could never accomplish.

I suppose the best way to appreciate this music is to study it. Know the songs, know the words, scrutinize even "Oh! Sweet Nuthin" because there is a secret to everything. It's a career, loving the VU, but I've always found it worthwhile.

Try 'em again, eventually. Based on sheer quality and power, they're the best band America has yet produced.

David Dickson writes: . . . And the sacred cow slaughter goes on. (*horse neighs, rooster crowing in background, farmer mutters "tarnation"*)

Now, I think you answered your own question when you wondered aloud why Velvet Underground and Nico was "so revolutionary." Yo La Tengo, Stereolab--well, try the Stooges, too, kid. One listen to stuff like "Black Angel's Death Song," "Waiting for the Man," "Run Run Run," and "All Tomorrows Etc."--hear that weirdo repetition? Now, I'm no hippie, but I can honestly say that I've never heard such weirdo repetition on any of my psychedelic tracks--not even "In a Gadda Da Vida," which you would think would NEED it to last all eighteen minutes.

See, these guys (and the Stooges) don't "jam." They "pound." They put you into a trance, true, but more of an amphetamine trance than mary jane, if you get my drift. They're robots, in a sense. That's something you could never accuse any true psychedelic band of being, Frank Zappa's vile accusations notwithstanding.

This band was one of the three major non-hippie pioneers of rock of 1967--Zappa brought the musique concrete, Beefheart brought the free jazz, and these guys? They brought the Cage-like minimalism. Not that I really LIKE any of that--I more appreciate it than I enjoy it, to be honest. But I have to admit--the rock world would be slightly less interesting without them. Without them, no My Bloody Valentine. Without MBV, no Smashing Pumpkins. Without the Smashing Pumpkins, no indie RAGE. Where would we be without indie RAGE??!?

Joking aside, White Light/White Heat's the band's best. Honestly, they're at they're best when they don't try to write songs properly.

But you don't like Lou's voice?? Christ, Willie! Ever heard a dude called Robert Zimmerman? He SUCKS!! :)

Damien Browning writes: I agree with you on your review of the VU, as i like to call them. I mean, i would also like to add their songs on their first album are difinately groundbreaking for their day, but they are too strange to even listen to.It's not the kind of music you would want to listen to often. But that's just my opinion, things start to improve on their third release though. especially with the lyrics. Loaded is best of course, especially the song head held high which has some really cool lyrics , but i don't really know what the song is about. although cool it down sucks sorta.But i like the songs on loaded, Lou sings about more normal subject matter for a change.

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Venetian Snares

Songs About My Cats

Willie's comments: Ping! Clank bloop BANG WHOMMMMMM BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG dikkadikkadikka poof! Dink plunk KCCCHHHHHH ding-gong pwannnnnnnggggggg tookle tookle tookletookletookle thud. BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANG teek oof! Teek oof! Teek oof chukka pwing... wong... wong... BANGBANGBANG toodle pleasant moment grrrrrRRRRRRROOWWWLLLLLLL fladdle zip! Doot doot twankletwankle GOWP croof hlaaaaaargh dardardardardar weem crunkle smash duddlebangpowpowsnuhbort BARF!

For, oh, forty or fifty minutes. Venetian Snares is the moniker under which electronica crackhead Aaron Funk (already a great moniker in and of itself) releases his punishingly weird drill 'n' bass attacks, and they're certainly not for everyone. Perhaps it would be best to compare his debut album, Songs About My Cats, to an IDM Jackson Pollock painting: there's crap drizzled, swooshed, and splattered everywhere in ways that might seem random, but were actually painstakingly calculated with the overall effect in mind. (That effect presumably being the listener's total submission to the music, because Venetian Snares hits you at such a velocity that it makes linear thought practically impossible- never mind, say, trying to operate a motor vehicle while you listen.) However, it's sometimes hard to keep that fact at the forefront of your brain when Funk is pummelling you with dozens of different sounds- that sound like everything from ambient Friday the 13th sound effects to distorted synth car crashes- per second, refusing to let you get your bearings by sticking with a single rhythm or melodic idea for any measurable period of time. Just percussive sounds of varying timbres and dynamics ricocheting around your head at a terrifying, violent clip. It's unquestionably fascinating, and disorienting in a completely original way- excellent headphone listening when you're at your wit's end- but as precisely planned as it all apparently was, there's still a fine line between innovative electronic experimentation and just a random pile of noise. Songs About My Cats generally lands on the happy side of the line, but for IDM fans more accustomed to the comparative accessibility of µ-ziq or Aphex Twin or even Autechre, the point of this stuff might seem nonexistent. Which is, of course, the point. Grade: B

READER COMMENTS:

Rick Atbert writes: Actually, I don't think that Songs About my Cats was his debut album. I think it was released in 2001 and that his first real album was called "Printf("shiver in eternal darkness/n)" or something. I'm not really a big fan of Venetian Snares, simply because his albums tend to be more irratating than melodic, and as good as avant-garde stuff can be, I think that there's a reason why Mr. Funk has released something like 9 albums in 4 years - they must not be very hard to make.

There is one neat thing about this album, however...on the last song, "Look" I think it's called, if you view the song through a spectrograph or something (Winamp has one), you can see pictures of his cats. A neat idea, except that Aphex Twin did the same thing on one of HIS albums, and the picture he put in was a hell of a lot freakier. Personally, I think you ought to pick up some Aphex Twin instead of fooling around with this guy, especially the Richard D. James album which basically defined Venetian Snares' entire career. Otherwise, there's Squarepusher...same thing, but with a lot of jazz elements...I really like Squarepusher a lot, even though he tends to bog some of his albums down with a lot of misplaced drill n' bass madness.

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The Veronica Cartwrights

One Careless Match

Willie's comments: I sometimes ask myself, "Why bother to write reviews of bands that (a) have nothing to recommend them, and (b) no one has ever heard of?" After all, it seems unlikely that many readers would be on the fence about whether to check out the Veronica Cartwrights, and that my review would therefore be a guiding light of discouragement the way I hope to be with reviews of more popular dreck like Cracker's Gentlemen's Blues or the Pixies' Bossanova. Most likely, the only people who would ever be looking for Veronica Cartwrights reviews would be ex-members of the Veronica Cartwrights themselves, so why put any effort into a review whose only imaginable effect could be possibly hurting these guys' feelings, should they stumble across it? Sometimes I don't have these crises of conscience, but the one and only album by the VCs is put forth with such earnestness that I imagine it was just recorded as a fun one-off by three college buddies, just so they could say they've recorded an album and maybe use that fact to bag a few chicks- who am I to impugn that? But in the end, I realize that the only way I can justify having purchased this album in the first place will be to review it; if it's not going to give me any listening pleasure, I may as well do something productive here, and I shall soldier on. One Careless Match is a collection of 17 shoddy indie-rock songs that sound as though they were slapped together by a few guys who liked the poppier elements of Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jr.'s albums, but couldn't really figure out how to make hooks work. So they strum away at their tastefully scrunchy guitars and predominant singer Jeff Lloyd wheezes in a strained approximation of J Mascis's voice, and nothing really gets accomplished. Bassist Les Labarge contributes the one brief highlight, "Memento Mori," a song that's actually creative in the fact that it uses fewer chords than you think it will, but the remainder of the album offers nothing in the way of excitement or memorable melodies (not a good thing for a band with such a nondescript sound). They waste a few good titles like "Al Green Day" and "Neil Young Blues" (especially ironic since "Freezing Reign" is a fairly transparent Neil Young rip-off), and though the band's vibe is faceless and easygoing enough to ensure that it never turns loathsome, it's still pretty useless. Grade: D+

THIS ARTIST HAS TENUOUS CONNECTIONS TO: PERNICE BROTHERS

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The Verve

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Urban Hymns

Willie's comments: In the eyes of posterity, the Verve will not be remembered as a particularly original Britpop band. Their best songs- most of which are captured here, on their final album- are canny syntheses of other bands' styles, most notably U2 and the Stone Roses (best exemplified here by "Catching the Butterfly" and "The Rolling People"). Of course, there's "Bitter Sweet Symphony," an undeniably great anthem which is built entirely around a Rolling Stones sample, but no charge of originality will be leveled at that song either; Smog got there first, with the insane, "Honky Tonk Woman"-based tune "I am Star Wars!" back in 1993. So why bother with Urban Hymns? Because for all its derivativeness, you simply cannot argue with the way songs like "Lucky Man" and "Bitter Sweet Symphony" satisfy like only great rock can. Because Richard Ashcroft's lyrics paint eloquent portraits of spiritual searching and emptiness that you're simply not going to get from Oasis or Blur. Because "Sonnet" is possibly the most soulful song to come out of the '90s. Sure, the album begins to drag around "One Day," and Urban Hymns probably isn't going to be mentioned in the same sentence as OK Computer in the history books, but in 20 years, you'll be glad that you held onto this one. Grade: B+

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The Virgin-Whore Complex

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Stay Away From My Mother

Willie's comments: Come January, if you're stuck for a New Year's Resolution, I've got a suggestion for you (without ever having met you- see what an annoyingly judgemental person I am?): I recommend that you resolve, in the next year, to purchase at least one album every couple months by a band you know absolutely nothing about. Whether you pull a disc blindly from the dollar bin at your favorite record store, pick something up just because you like the cover art, or bid on entirely random CD auctions on eBay, just get ahold of something by an artist that's entirely new to you. There are few greater joys a music fan can experience than buying an album, sound unheard, and discovering that it's so great that you have a new band whose discography you want to investigate. In the past few years, with the advent of file-trading, that's a pleasure that has more-or-less gone by the wayside, since it is no longer necessary to just pick up a record on the strength of a band's reviews or whatever; you can now usually download and sample a few cuts as well, before you commit to handing your hard-earned amateur-porn money over to a record store. Not that I'm against file-trading in any way, because its advantages are staggering, but a minor downside is that it has taken the thrill of the gamble out of CD purchasing. So to get that giddy fix, sometimes you're just going to have to act randomly.

Case in point: I was in Louisville last week, browsing through the $3.00 section at Better Days Records (an exercise I highly recommend for my throngs of Louisville readers- I wound up getting seven discs for, like, $14), and I came upon this album from the Virgin-Whore Complex. I bought it just because it was cheap and the band had a funny name, and even if it turned out to be unlistenable screaming-girl hardcore like I suspected, I wasn't out too much cash. To my delight, however, the Virgin-Whore Complex is a witty three-piece whose infectious, literate folk-punk sounds like it was composed by Stephin Merritt's bratty little brother. That spiritual brother would be Spats Ransom, the VWC's guitarist and frontman (a title I've given him because he wrote most of these songs, and sings more of them than bassist Debbie Fox or keyboardist Charlie Fulton do, though they all switch off frequently). With a lispy, flat, Fred Schneider-esque voice and a penchant for contrasting sentimental imagery with blunt one-liners, Ransom should, by all rights, be a huge indie star. In fact, that's a goal he addresses in a tongue-in-cheek fashion in the boppy opener "Discovered," in which an ex-lover is warned to brace for jealousy, because Ransom just got a book on how to play guitar, and is therefore destined for stardom, "and you'll still be a librarian." Ha! His tunes aren't particularly complex, musically, but they breeze by with a self-satisfied simplicity that turns out moments of true beauty ("Wolves Gather Silently By") as effortlessly as it does indie-pop hooks ("Four-Alarm Fire in Lovers' Lane"). With Fox and Fulton bringing elements of Barbara Manning (whose sister Terri guests on "Golden Nights") and Elliott Smith, respectively, to their vocal contributions, Stay Away From My Mother's mostly acoustic rock tunes are supersaturated with talent. Seek it out, and then find your own surprise masterpiece! And tell me about it! Grade: A

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Succumb

Willie's comments: The VWC approaches their canted indie-rock as more of an egalitarian ensemble this time around; nearly all of the songs are collaborative writing efforts between the members, and vocal duties are spread around more evenly as well. Though this results in a drop in the energy level on Succumb (Fox still favors her charming, vaguely ethnic Manning-isms, and Fulton's "Casey" is a piano-based waltz that borrows a bit from Simon & Garfunkel's "America"), the songs haven't lost any of their nasty bite. The aforementioned "Casey," for instance, is an unsentimental look at a speed-addled truck driver, "Speakerphone" takes its lyrics from the letters left for police by the Zodiac Killer, and the title track may be Ransom's masterpiece: with a subtly rueful backing track constructed from a pump organ, a dobro, a "banjo ukelele," recorders, and sheet metal sound effects, the song strings together enough quotable, bitter lyrics for an entire album (I would kill to be able to come up with a line that contains such a powerful image as "upwind in Hana when the virus lab implodes") and yet gently tosses them into the breeze. That's not to say that Succumb is by any means dour, however: "Cool Brunette" and "Stay Away From My Mother" have a slinky pop sheen, and there's a sweetly incongruous cover of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil's "The Coldest Night of the Year" as well. But if you're not already a dyed-in-the-wool indie-rock fan, you might want to just start out with their first album and then work your way up to this one (at which point you'll have to stop, because the band broke up after this disc), because though its pleasures aren't any lesser, the twinkly-surreal mood of Succumb takes some digging to get into. Grade: A-

READER COMMENTS:

Spats Ransom himself(!) writes: This is Spats Ransom, frontman (I can live with the title) of the VWC, and I just wanted to thank you very much for your extremely kind review of our albums, Stay Away from My Mother and Succumb. We are, as you correctly observed, very nearly as obscure a rock band as exists, and the occasional positive review, such as yours, is a very bracing tonic indeed.

For the record, we have not, technically speaking, broken up--we're just a lazy pack of coots, and since we didn't receive the massive adulation we would have preferred from our albums, we've basically concentrated on our various day jobs since then instead. But we still write songs, and one of these days--who knows? We might put out another record.

Incidentally; yours is only the second review I've ever seen that correctly identified the writers of "Coldest Night of The Year" as Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill. Everyone else seemed to think it was Kurt Weill. Bravo.

But thank you, again, for your kind and encouraging review. By the way--I scanned through some of the other reviews on your site, and was amazed at how spot-on you consistently were. If there were more rock critics like you out there, our pop culture wouldn't be in such disastrous shape.

zeldabeyebrow131@juno.com writes: It seems that luck really brings people to the VWC. Just like the writer before me, I was going through the discount bins at the record shop, trying to find something fresh. Out of all the albums along the bin, the VWC was the only one which really stood out. I couldn't wait to take it home, i just had such a good feeling about it. The minute I heard the harmonies on "Speakerphone" I knew I was done in, I was made a very big fan. I then brought the album with me to listen to on a summer walk, and it the best experience. The vocals, instrumentals and rhythm of th VWC really fit a summer day. I am so upset that there are only two albums for me to get my hands on. But, I couldn't be more pleased with my new favorite band. I am so lucky to have found them.

John Ogan writes: I was just watching a History Channel special about the mafia, and they showed a picture of J. Paul Getty III, who had hair that reminded me of Spats Ransom's.  Funny how that is. Anyway, I got to thinking about the VWC again, and found your reviews to be excellent. I was also very surprised to see Ransom himself commenting on your work. I found the band through bizarre chance as well, my local college radio station at the time was handing out free cds they had lying around for some reason to build interest in their programming, and I took "Stay Away From My Mother" home. It took me probably a year before I listened to it, but as soon as I did I couldn't stop. Hopefully someday soon they'll release another CD--I know Charlie's still being his witty self on usenet, and I don't have a clue where Deb is.

LoadesC writes: You've REALLY overrated this group! Their albums sound a lot like the Mekons and Prolapse but nowhere near as good.

Schmick writes: i' am so glad other people have found this cd in some random bargain bin in in some random shop. I too bought it laughing at the title and intrigued by the picture and the album is one of my all time favourites....love the singing of the bassist....such lush tunes she writes..if she wrote them?!.

Glad to see spats digs your review...this band should be well known....also thanks for showing me succumb..i will have to find that now

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