The Velvet Teen from Santa Rosa (north of San Francisco), fronted by
singer-songwriter Judah Nagler, began as a power-trio
(Logan Whitehurst on drums and Josh Staples on bass) playing
poppy while non-trivial emocore on the
three-song EP The Great Beast February (2001) and the album
Out Of The Fierce Parade (2002), containing
Radiapathy and The Prize Fighter.
Opening with an instrumental overture for dissonant instruments turning into
piano sonata (Sartre Ringo),
Elysium (Slowdance, 2004) vastly upped the ante and presented
ambitious pop constructs such as the
string-based easy-listening music with grand melodic arias of
A Captive Audience, or such as
the melodramatic crooning of Forlorn (with fluttering synthesizers).
The method peaked with the 13-minute lyrical tour de force of
Chimera Obscurant, propelled by jazzy piano chords into a soaring
orgy of strings that almost obliterate the transfixed vocals.
To punctuate Nagler's subdued rumination,
the eight-minute We Were Bound architected a protracted agony of cellos
leading to an eruption of sparkling synthesizers.
Logan Whitehurst (who died of cancer a few months later)
was replaced by jazzy drummer Casey Deitz for the more cerebral music of
Cum Laude (Slowdance, 2006), that increased the role of electronic sounds
(333, Tokyoto) and mostly sounded
emphatic and neurotic even in the cases of the bouncy Rhodekill (that also boasts a vibrant 1960s-style instrumental break) and of the anthemic closer Gyzmkid (the melodic standout).
The album's angst peaked with the feverish frenzy of Building a While
via the psychological tension of Spin the Wink.
At the other (gentler) end of the spectrum,
their introverted mood yielded
the solemn R.E.M.-style elegy False Profits
and the plantive ballad Around the Roller Rink.
After Josh Staples left, Nagler shifted to bass while
Matthew Izen joined on guitar.
After a long hiatus, All Is Illusory (2015) reintroduced an
energetic band via the effervescent grunge-pop of Eclipses and the
catchy singalong You Were The First. But most of the rest is poorly
designed filler, notably the 11-minute ballad Taken Over.
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