Vetiver are one of those bands whose music always appear in year end lists of the best music of a particular past twelve months. Yet they are also one of those bands whose albums finish always at number 54 or 76 and are accompanied by a bit of script from a music journo that will barely do them justice and babbles on about "a nice place for campfire listening". The reason is that while they ooze quality and great songs they are comfortable and on times perfectly lovely. While I hate such labels (its a bit like management speak) former Vetiver collaborator and folkie Devendra Banhart once proposed the term "naturalismo" for the music coming out of San Francisco's modern folk scene. It does actually make a bit of sense. on "Tight Knit" there are no massive production values, the feel is generally lo fi, with warm cooing harmonies and the onus is upon the songs. Front man Andy Cabic has a warm and relaxed approach to vocal duties and has been called by Rolling Stone "the thinking man's Jack Johnson". Not certain whether that is a compliment or not but you can see the problem.
"Down from above" for example is a dreamy pop song with a almost Simon and Garfunkel feel and is gorgeous. "Through the front door" sees a gentle folk acoustic ballad which is nearly as strong as "Roll on Babe" one of the highlights of their previous album. "Everyday" has echoes of Paul McCartney while "More than this" is a jaunty and excellent pop song and in a perfect world people would listen to this rather than the excruciating Paolo Nutini. Tight Knit is therefore an album which could soundtrack a day at the beach or a summer drive. It doesn't demand much of you, is very Californian and laid back and is a bit too safe for its own good. As such a change of direction will be required if they they are ever to move up the list.
on 3 November 2009
Vetiver are a wonder, a delight of a band that just keep on giving.
After 2 (one more of an EP) covers albums, containing little known songs (ie not The Beatles, Bob Dylan etc churned out badly on most covers albums) that were joyous affairs, the first album of originals since To Find Me Gone is perfectly crafted.
Can't be bothered trying to provide a breakdown of each song, or even to slot them in to some new oddly named genre (see "freak-folk", "alt-folktronic" "psych-folk" etc etc). Cohorts of Devendra banhart, and musical soulmates of John Phillips, The Band, I see them as a pre-cursor to the infinitely more successful, but no better Fleet Foxes.
Go on. I challenge you to find a better song this year than "More Of This". Toe tappingly splendid.