Burlington's noise-friendly Video Pigeon are part of the Queen City's revitalized rock scene. After a seemingly endless parade of feel-good jammers and acoustic strummers, a growing number of edgier groups is hitting the local clubs. Taking their cues from avant-garde legends Sonic Youth, VP deliver I Do No Give, a five-song debut loaded with catchy, adventurous tunes.
Opener "Velour" sets guitarist/vocalist Sue Westfield's detached spoken/sung vocals against a feisty guitar figure. A spiky noise-rock solo punctuates the song's snappy breakdown, evoking '90s Big Apple art-rock while retaining a pop sensibility.
Guitarists/bassists Nicholas Farrell and Scott Lindenbaum cover a lot of sonic territory; their energetic downstrokes and scuffed-up tones push the songs through moods from the casually inviting to the stand-offish. The interestingly named "Harry Sonnick Jr." gives Farrell and Lindenbaum plenty of room to explore. The six-stringers use the spaces well, creating terse chordal blasts and squalls of well-placed feedback.
Drummer Andy Baron is no longer with the group, but he holds down the fort pretty well on this disc. There's something to be said for a drummer who doesn't overplay; his straight-ahead pulse helps anchor the band's more experimental sections. Baron's hi-hat and tom work on "Bunny Ears" provide a solid foundation for the hyper-distorted guitar section, accentuating the tune's punky edges while driving it along.
The beautiful sway of "Bunny Ears" allows Westfield to deliver her most compelling vocal performance. The song is a little slower and cleaner than the rest, leaving her room for more nuanced inflections. She affects a tone similar to Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, but nonetheless hints at a delicate sensuality all her own. With this kind of charisma, Westfield is well on her way to becoming one of the coolest frontwomen around.
Closing track "John Eckels" is named after a friend of the group, but not necessarily written about him. "A tiny kitchen with countless hairs/math-rock metal and cheap mike stands," Westfield purrs icily. A fine song no matter what the subject matter, it's a good example of Video Pigeon's imagistic style.
For a debut effort, I Do No Give is remarkably well-realized. This shouldn't surprise VP watchers, however; the group has improved exponentially in the year or so they've been together. I can't wait to hear where they go from here.