Saturday, January 10, 2009

Reviews of EPs from Last Year, Part I

Review: Stages EP, Vedera

Imagine if two of my favorite bands in the world, Eisley and Mae, got together and had a little music-baby. They named their progeny "Vedera", and she looked promising since the day she was born. Quickly, though, she entered her "angsty 14 year old" phase. She started hanging out with that slightly-off twenty-something down the street, Evanescence, and her friends. In her rebellion, she makes it clear that she wants to be called "Veda" now. And little baby Vedera/Veda, clearly not such a baby anymore, started throwing around phrases like The Weight of an Empty Room. It's not bad, not by a long shot, but everyone who's close to her can't help but wonder where she's going now that she's made her statement.

Never fear, Mommy Eisley and Daddy Mae. Vedera is back to listening to what you have to say. She's outgrown her rebellion and become a fine young lady. Now, she's more precocious than rebellious. She's more introspective than angry. She has a bit darker outlook than either of her parents; she's more fragile. But her melodies are as beautifully crafted as any of her mom's, and her dad would be proud of the way she uses tonal changes to create mood changes and integrates some theory and progression into her chords.

The result is a splendid, though short, EP. No collection of three songs has ever made me happier. Like lead singer Kristen May's voice might suggest, these songs weave together a tension between apprehension and resolve, between nostalgia for the past and trepidation about the future. Consciously or not, Vedera channels Death Cab ("you're the only song I hear") and Jimmy Eat World ("the middle") and even old Vedera (the chorus to "Satisfy").

You'll wish desperately that there were more than three songs here, that we could see a few more of Vedera's perspectives, that we could see if any of those contrasts ever resolve themselves. May's voice has come a long way in terms of range, and she's willing to put more vocal experiments on the line than Eisley ever was, but it seems that she still has a little growing up to do. Perhaps that's what we'll get on the next full-length album, and that's something to look forward to very much.

Currently listening: Always the Bridesmaid EPs, The Decemberists (review to follow)

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