(Self-released, CD, digital download)
Don’t look now, but it seems the moody, guitar-driven alt-rock of the mid- to late 1990s is making a comeback. For listeners of a certain vintage — say, music critics in their early thirties desperately clinging to their youth — it’s a welcome trend. Among the local outfits reviving that brooding, grainy sound are Burlington’s Vedora. The trio is set to release its full-length debut, When Dusk Falls, which is likely to appeal not only to those who fondly remember the Breeders, PJ Harvey and Sleater-Kinney, but to younger audiences craving a more substantial sound than the latest wave of indie jangle and hipster electro-pop can offer.
That’s not to say Vedora sound dated; they don’t, and the record’s 10 cuts are intriguingly varied. But there are stylistic and thematic parallels to ’90s pop music throughout the often-dark work. Stormy arrangements and gloomy, poetic songwriting contribute to the album’s melancholy.
Bassist/pianist Caroline O’Connor and guitarist Matt Hastings share writing duties; Jeff LaBossiere handles drums. O’Connor takes the helm on the lead track, “Terrarium,” and proves a sly front woman. Her wail is sinewy and sensuous, her words tinged with angst.
Hastings provides muscular balance to O’Connor’s feminine sound. “Promises” is a charging, guitar-driven standout that recalls a leaner version of the Afghan Whigs, with Hastings’ raspy howl sounding like an emotionally balanced Greg Dulli.
Those twin lead tracks are so strong, Vedora could be forgiven for repeating the potent formula for the remainder of the disc — but they don’t. Instead, they explore a variety of styles, from Latin rock (“Maria”) to reggae (“In the Pines”) to rockabilly (“Jump Back”) to a straight piano ballad (“Somewhere Else”). The results are inconsistent — “Somewhere Else” skews a little too close to Sarah-McLachlan-saving-abused-animals weepiness for my comfort — but Vedora hit more than they miss. And their admirable commitment to indulging their curiosity bodes well for their future.
When Dusk Falls by Vedora is available at vedora.bandcamp.com. The band celebrates its debut album with a release party at the Monkey House in Winooski this Saturday, October 6, with Shelly Shredder and the Cave Bees.