This past spring a band called Violent Mae sent us a track to premier called "Hole In My Heart". It was and still is a stellar track that covers so many bases musically and stylistically that it's kind of intimidating. Sometimes a band will come out with a song and tease that they could be the best band you have ever heard. Sometimes a band will make that level of promise to you. Only through hard work, determination, a discerning ear and a little luck could a band like Violent Mae make an album that lives up to the potential promised in their first single "Hole In My Heart". Luckily all of those things have clearly come to pass.
"Later On" starts of the LP with that same smoky guitar and voice combo, grooving solidly through a myriad of gorgeous effects. This is the "flavor" of Violent Mae, wonderful songs played expertly and recorded and covered in effects. There's a wonderful swirl of leads and drums at the end of this song.
I'm sure it was an obvious decision to put "Hole In My Heart" as track 2, as it is a clear stand out single, and that's where you put your stand out single. Like a hazy summer afternoon, this jam trucks along at a relaxing pace while still retaining the heartfelt emotion of someone at the end of their rope. Such a sweet tune.
"No Way Out" take everything up a notch out of the folk realm and into a full flown rock song. The booming drums and layered guitar really give off the sense of urgency implied in the title and heard in the song. Becky Kessler's vocals are still gorgeous and smoky, effortlessly vocalizing over a song that feels like it can't cease its panic.
"Man In The Country" sports some of the more conceptual studio trickery and environmental exploration of this album, and features the most exceptional and affecting vocals by Ms. Kessler yet. Near Billie Holiday caliber vocal work on this song.
"Right Here" while darker and a bit dreary, is nonetheless inviting and inventive. Warm fuzzy guitar and vocals are met with sparse drumming to give it a barer sound than many of the other songs. As it builds and expands it is joined by banjo to make for an interesting and odd combination of sounds.
Even more bare is album closer "Real Love Song" which is a low, sweet and somber tune. It is most apparent in the later portions of this album that Violent Mae's true gift is being able to blend all manner of sounds from the past to make their own unique sound. They have done what bands take years to achieve in their debut album, carve out their own unique sound. What this album also shows us is that when you aren't spending your time discovering your sound through song, you can instead just flex your creative muscles and break the shackles that come with being unsure of who you are or where you are going. This is an album that does as it pleases, and you are along for the ride if you like. This kind of confident, honest and true art is the kind we all aspire to make.
And bravo to Violent Mae for pulling it all together on their debut album. I highly recommend this album to people of all ages and all musical backgrounds.
You can pick up a copy in physical form from the band as they play a series of release shows in support of this album.
Firstly, you can see them tomorrow (Thursday 11/14) @ Cafe Nine, New Haven, with Fake Babies @ 9 p.m., $8, 21+
Then the album comes out officially Tuesday 11/19 via Violent Mae's Bandcamp
Sun., Dec. 1, Rockwood Music Hall, NYC, VIOLENT MAE, 4 p.m., 21+ http://www.rockwoodmusichall.
Fri., Dec. 6, Arch Street Tavern, Hartford, VIOLENT MAE's Hartford Album Launch Show with Modern Merchant, 9 p.m., $10, 21+