Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band – Where the Messengers Meet

January 01, 1970



(Dead Oceans)


Like Portugal. The Man in “Church Mouth” mode, Seattle’s Mt.
St. Helens Vietnam Band have made an of-the-moment, post-Modest Mouse
indie-rock record whose obvious roots in the classic-rock era are helped along
immensely by the singer’s eerie vocal similarities to early Robert Plant. But
not the wailing side of early Robert Plant. The quavering, vulnerable side. The
leadoff track, “At Night,” could be a “Church Mouth” outtake – in a good way –
setting the tone with a spooky a cappella reading of “The fire only burns in
your eyes at night when the moths take flight in a dance with the porchlight,”
Benjamin Verdoes’ vocal joined at first by a minimal, almost dub-style guitar
part and, finally, the full band’s lush, dramatic orchestration and
math-rock-compatible disregard for straight-up 4/4 timing. It’s a brilliant
first step.


And while not every track here lives up to the promise, most
do, from the almost Pink Floyd-worthy sense of atmosphere they bring to
“Leaving Trails” to the haunting, acoustic-guitar-fueled meditation, “Gone
Again, which again, makes the most of evocative lyrics (“You felt you were
sick, so I played the doctor”). And signing off with a weary
acoustic-guitar-driven ballad, “George Clark,” is a nice touch.


Night,” “Gone Again” A. WATT


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