Thursday, July 27, 2006
VETIVER | To Find Me Gone | Di Cristina
There’s a reason Vetiver gets lumped in with the freak-folk crowd, but it doesn’t have much to do with its music. Andy Cabic, the San Francisco-based collective’s only permanent member, plays guitar in Devendra Banhart’s touring band and even runs a label with him. Vetiver’s 2004 debut found Cabic in the company of Banhart and the crown princess of freak-folk herself, the harp-playing hipster Joanna Newsom. Boon companions notwithstanding, Cabic just isn’t that freaky. Unlike Newsom, he doesn’t have a weird, quavery, frighten-your-mom kind of voice, and he doesn’t come off like some hirsute, demented pixie, as Banhart often does.
To Find Me Gone, Vetiver’s second full-length, is plenty folk, but freak—not so much. This is lazy, hazy summertime music, music to loll in a creek to on a muggy afternoon. The songs, if somewhat repetitive, are far from monotonous; they have an incantatory, intensely polyphonic quality that won’t blow your mind but might very well occupy it for a pleasant interval.
At its best, as on the droning, raga-like hymn “Been So Long”; the vibraphone-accented Delta-noir blues “You May Be Blue”; and the involuted, hallucinatory lullaby “Double,” Vetiver perfects a kind of maximal minimalism in which repetition blossoms into epiphany. Other songs are less singular but only slightly less enthralling: “I Know No Pardon,” a dilatory country-rock charmer, sounds like a great-lost Wilco outtake. The freaks might be disappointed by the CD’s unassailable prettiness — its failure to comply with the esoteric doctrines of the underground elite, its unfashionable evocations of Fleetwood Mac and even the Grateful Dead — but when it’s time to come down from whatever awesome trip they’re on, To Find Me Gone might be a welcome reprieve from the usual weirdness. —Rene Spencer Saller
JOHNNY CASH | Man In Black/Live in Denmark 1971 | Legacy DVD
With a #1 disc on the record charts and currently selling as much as any other dead (or living) icon, you’d expect a flood of Cash-related crapola. This isn’t like that—this is wonderful.
Filmed in front of a bemused studio filled with not-so-melancholy Danes, Cash’s band is quiet, yet cleanly intense. The American idiom-laden “Boy Named Sue” goes over like a lead balloon, but his ‘50s classics resound with the Scandinavians like they were homegrown anthems.
His rhythm guitarist on the show is the legendary Carl Perkins, who glides effortlessly through his cameos on “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Matchbox.”
Yes, his biopic has made his legend almost Elvis-like, but Cash was and will always be a special artist that straddled folk, country and rockabilly without an iota of discomfort in anything. Compared to him, every current cowboy-hat wearing fraud belongs as a Wal-Mart greeter. —Johnny Angel
TV ON THE RADIO | Return to Cookie Mountain | 4AD Records UK
Originally a Williamsburg, Brooklyn, trio proselytizing with studio-smudged indie-rock spirituals, TV on the Radio is now a fidgety quintet. TVoTR’s previous, baptismal recordings were at times as dusty as impassioned. Cookie Mountain—so far a UK-only release—sounds crisp and intimate.
Producer Dave Sitek has re-amped his affected analogs above a blunted skronk, and darts overdriven details beneath the supple vocal harmonies of Tunde and Kyp. The band’s more linear recent efforts are less about mere voice and more about actual words. In September 2005, TVoTR released “Dry Drunk Emperor,” a free download criticizing the country’s ineffectual leadership. Cookie Mountain tracks such as “Wolf Like Me” delve further into themes of lost control, transformation, power and impotence simultaneously—all while exhibiting TVoTR’s increased handle on dovetailed, vitalized sonics. —Tony Ware