Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Vetiver Thing Of The Past Reviewed In The NY Times.

“Thing of the Past”

Original post

Generally for a rock band of at least semiserious intentions, the time for a covers album is when it has grown established and a little confused: its 4th or 5th or 10th record, say. Third is a little soon.

But Vetiver, from San Francisco, is basically a folk group with amps and drums, and covering other people’s songs isn’t a grand statement; it’s a folk ritual, a means of dissemination and cross-pollination. “Thing of the Past,” its third album, renders faithful versions of very obscure songs in their own style, which is Vetiver’s style anyway: late 1960s and early 1970s settled, meditative, West Coast electric folk-rock. The record is super studied, but never bloodless. And it’s much better than that sounds.

Andy Cabic, the band’s leader, doesn’t just choose, for example, a lesser-known Neil Young song. Instead he’s chosen a song whose original iteration contained possibly Mr. Young’s most obscure guest appearance: “Houses,” from Elyse Weinberg’s album “Elyse” (1968). Vetiver’s version is sweet and centered, careful and musical, a balance between larking and scholarship. I can’t quite understand how the band pulled it off.

Such is the case all the way through the album. “To Baby” by Biff Rose; “Lon Chaney,” by Garland Jeffreys; “Hurry on Sundown,” by Hawkwind; “Sleep a Million Years,” by Dia Joyce. (Who is Dia Joyce? I looked her up online and found almost nothing.) Somehow this is not a precious or pretentious record; these versions are delicate and sturdy at the same time. And the band recruits a few of its singer-songwriter heroes, Vashti Bunyan and Michael Hurley, from its favorite era. Mr. Cabic’s voice sounds contemporary with theirs, a little like Doug Yule’s, from the Velvet Underground.

Vetiver centers itself on slow, reliable grooves and drones; it finds the meat of a song and doesn’t grandstand. And yet the record so clearly follows Mr. Cabic’s pleasure principle that it short-circuits the good reasons not to make something like this.


Vetiver will be playing an Amoeba Berkeley in-store at 6:00 PM this evening & tons of Euro dates to follow this summer:

5/16 Brighton, UK @ Theatre Royal (w/ Vashti Bunyan)
05/17 Brussels, BEL @ Les Nuits Botanique
05/18 Fulda DEU @ Das Kreuz
05/20 Zurich, CH @ Rote Fabrik-Ziegel Oh Lac
05/21 Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso
05/23 Coventry, UK @ Tin Angel
05/26 Cambrige UK @ Barfly
05/27 Leeds, UK @ Faversham
05/28 Liverpool, UK @ Sound City Festival
05/29 Edinburgh, UK @ Cabaret Voltair
05/30 Glasgow, UK @ Arches
05/ 31 Aberdeen, UK @ The Tunnels
06/01 Newcastle, UK @ Cluny
06/02 Nottingham, UK @ Bodega Social
06/03 Bristol, UK @ Cube Cinema
06/04 Manchester, UK @ Road House
06/05 London, UK @ St. Giles in The Fields Church
06/06 Cardiff, UK @ Barfly
06/07 Belfast, UK @ Black Box
06/08 Dublin, IRE @ Crawdaddy
06/10 Birmingham, UK @ Barfly
06/13 Porto, PRT @ Passos Manuel
06/14 Lisbon, PRT @ ZDB Gallery
06/17 Barcelona, ESP @ Sidecar
06/18 Madrid, ESP @ Joy Eslave (w/ Akron/family)
06/19 Seville, ESP @ Teatro Central (w/ Akron/Family)
06/20 Granada, ESP @ Teatro Alhambra (w/ Akron/Family)
06/21 Malaga, ESP @Teatro Canovas (w/ Akron/Family)
06/27 Paris, FR @ Café De la Danse
06/29 Glastonbury, UK @ Glastonbury Festival

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