Thursday, May 7, 2009

Viva Voce - Rose City

Viva Voce are from Portland, Oregon although the band's inception was in Muscle Shoals Alabama. Kevin and Anita Robinson initially played shows as a duo under the Viva Voce moniker, recording four records before swelling the VV ranks by adding Corrina Repp and Evan Railton. Octavio is the first I've heard from the band and I'm pretty impressed. When the vocals are in unison, I don't want to shoot myself and the Robinsons avoid deviances into the horrors of Mates Of State domestic reflection, a sure death knell for this asshole.

Viva Voce have self-recorded and released their material whenever possible, but Rose City is the first record to be recorded in the studio they have fabricated behind their Portland home. VV (not the Kills douche-nozzle) have a pretty strong overseas following built by years of touring, but took a year off to build the studio and work with country side project Blue Giant. Anita also toured and sang with compatriots The Shins, leaving Kevin to record local bands in the new workshop. Over three weeks earlier this year, the Robinsons wrote and recorded Rose City as a sort of aesthetic homage to their home city. The time frame was evidently intentional, although I've yet to ascertain why as yet. Safe money is on avoiding impaling oneself with the double-edged sword of owning your own studio. Either way, nothing about Rose City seems rushed. It's a great sounding record, swathed in reverb but not to a fault. The opening Devotion sounds like Thurston Moore sitting in with The Spinanes, without so much SY freakout. I hear a lot of The Spinanes, as well as a little Lush in some of the more processed drums.

Vocals are shared by the Robinsons, often in unison, but sometimes with a single lead. I'm never crazy about unison vocals, but Viva Voce do it pretty well, even if the best song on the record is sung purely by Anita. That song is Good As Gold. That's an Elastica meets Joan Jett little nugget that seems dangerously likely to be the ill-portended 'somewhat unrepresentative hit'. Internal politics aside, Good As Gold and the following title track are two of the best songs you'll hear this year. Listening to Rose City it's obvious why Europe has taken such a shine to Viva Voce. The expanded VV is touring hard behind Rose City and the record isn't even out yet. Keep tabs on their whereabouts here and pick the record up on May 26th when it drops courtesy of the good folk of Barsuk. You get the first single Octavia free from the Viva Voce web presence here to tide you over in the interim. Stay in the loop on the pre-order for Rose City at Barsuk here.


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