There is absolutely no doubt that Phil Spector would be impressed with Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band’s style, which utilizes his “wall of sound” technique to a degree that Spector may not ever had anticipated. The Seattle-based group came out with their third album, “Where the Messengers Meet,” on August 2nd as a relatively new alternative-rock band, with only two years of performing together under their belt.
My initial qualm with this album as a whole is that there is not enough to differentiate each track from the others. Too many of them have the same crashing percussion matched with a relatively simple electric riff that is repeated throughout and seems to overpower and swallow the vocals. With that being said, there are definitely refreshing moments that offer more quality and varying instrumental arrangements. Mid-way through the list of tracks each song begins to vary in tempo, they begins to move away from the steadier beats that supported the heavy percussion and bass in the first couple songs.
The album begins with At Night, a track primarily comprised of a muffled, Jack White-esqe voice with the accent of electric power chords. The percussion and bass begin to pick up towards the end and for the next couple songs those continue to be proponent musical elements. “Hurrah” starts with a less overpowering sound with the vocals and instrumentals playing off one another in an almost funk-like manner; hitting the very end of each beat. However, by the end of the song the band erupts into the hyper-frenetic breakdown, border-lining on cacophonous.
Gone Again is the slowest, most reeling track, that seems to teeter-tooter over the repetitious four-note progression and immediate digression. Benjamin Verdoes’s – the lead singer – delivery follows this same swaying pattern into the next track, Bitter Cold.
It is hard to discern the lyrics in most of the songs due to the aforementioned overpowering instrumentals at the start of the album. However, as the songs begin to wind down, the reason for the less than clear understanding of what Verdoes is saying has more to do with his vocal performance. He begins to let himself move into an almost dazed, sing-songy voice. That vacillation seems to be a tendency throughout.
Regardless of what seems to be a thoroughly adverse impression, it is not that I disliked the album, it is that I was just not impressed – it left no impact. I think most of the alternative or indie rockers who were to listen to Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band would enjoy their sound because it hits the nail on the head for it’s genre, but that is about it. I would not object to hearing their music in the future but they offer no unique feature to leave me seeking out their future albums.
By Lacey Smalldon